A special woman described as a “lady of musical love” passed away Oct. 2, 2001 at the tender young age of 102.
Rita DeRyke passed away in Scottsdale, but she leaves a special legacy with many Fountain Hills residents.
“She was lucid until her last few days,” said Virginia Tarajcak of Fountain Hills. “Our family’s friendship and love spanned nearly 50 years.”
Born July 31, 1899, Rita taught school in the early 1960s at St. Francis and St. Thomas the Apostle parishes. She also taught piano lessons in her home.
“Our children learned from her more than music,” Virginia recalls. “Though she and her brother Ed never married, both had profound knowledge of the arts, and Rita knew instinctively the needs of the children she taught, and there were many. She shaped the lives of our whole family.”
At the saying of the Rosary in honor of Rita, many of her now grown students from her days at St. Thomas, as well as parents, came to pay respect.
The owner of the group home where Rita lived the past few years told of how the women there enjoyed her, even as they helped her turn 101 and then 102 just a few months ago.
People from Blessed Sacrament Church and the group who visited her at the home twice a week were also profoundly touched by Rita’s being.
“She was a unique human being,” Virginia adds. “We all told stories about her that were touching, humorous and filled with the nature of her being. The evening was filled with laughter, tears and joy.
“We shared stories about Rita’s fiesty nature, as did Father O’Dea from Church of the Ascension, who also knew her well.
“Our son and grandson added to the joy as did I, for she is totally implanted in my heart for teaching me the arts (painting and writing) that pulled me through the deaths of our two sons.”
Dan Tarajcak read the eulogy, written by Virginia’s brother, Pat Tanno of Tucson. David Tarajcak played the first song Rita taught him, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as well as a composition of his own.
Wayne E. Prygocki
Wayne E. Prygocki, 71, of Fountain Hills died Oct. 18, 2001 at his residence.
Born June 3, 1930 in Chicago, Ill., Mr. Prygocki was a printing lithographer and worked for E & D Web in Cicero, Ill. for 35 years.
He was a U.S. Navy veteran and a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fountain Hills.
Survivors include his wife, Lois; sons, Scott E. (Laura) of Fountain Hills and John L. (Debbie) of Glendale Heights, Ill.; daughter, Joyce M. Prygocki of Bloomingdale, Ill.; brother, Robert MacKenzie (Dolores) of Lake Forest, Ill.; sister, Nancy Froid of Hanover Park, Ill; and two grandchildren, Kevin L. and Eric E. Prygocki.
Visitation was held Oct. 22 followed by a service at Trinity Lutheran Church.
The family suggests memorial contributions to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014 or to Trinity Lutheran Church, 13770 N. Fountain Hills Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.
Frank C. Minarsich, beloved father, son and brother, passed away Oct. 24, 2001.
He was born on March 22, 1949 in Des Moines, Iowa.
A true American hero, "Frankie" was awarded the Bronze Star with the "V" device for Heroism in the Vietnam War as well as the Purple Heart.
A medical aidman with the 101st Airborne Division, the citation accompanying Mr. Minarsich’s medal reads in part: "During an enemy attack, Specialist Minarsich repeatedly subjected himself to hostile fire to treat wounded personnel. After he had supervised medical evacuation of the wounded, Specialist Minarsich replaced a wounded cannoneer in a howitzer section. During afternoon attacks (only July 1, 1970) he removed four men from an open area…When a supply helicopter was downed by hostile fire, he subjected himself to intense enemy fire and rushed to the downed aircraft to render medical aid to the wounded personnel aboard."
Mr. Minarsich was preceded in death earlier this year by his mother, Jeanne.
He is survived by his daughters, Jaime and Brianne, his father Frank T., brother Mike and sister, Kathy Minarsich-Thomason.
Services will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church, 15800 Del Webb Blvd., Sun City, at 9 a.m.
The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent in Frank’s name to Sun Health Hospice, 12740 N. Plaza Del Rio Blvd., Peoria, AZ 85381.
Olivia I. Bell
Olivia I. Bell, 88, of Fountain Hills died Oct. 23, 2001.
Visitation and services were held in El Paso, Texas.
Green Acres Mortuary, 401 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale made arrangements.
Zoie Beth Gates, daughter of Jay and Britt (Hedlund) Gates, was born at 9:25 p.m. March 18, 1999 in Leoti, Kan.
She passed away Saturday afternoon, Nov. 3, 2001 in Anthony, Kan., at the age of two years, seven months and fifteen days.
She was baptized into the Methodist Church in Leoti, Kansas in September 1999. She moved with her parents to Arizona and a year ago the family moved to Anthony.
Zoie was a beautiful little girl who was full of life and full of love. One minute she would be a little lady wearing pink dresses and ribbons and bows – the next she would be a little cowgirl with wranglers, boots and spurs.
She loved to read books, play with her dolls, ride horses, sing “Jesus Loves Me,” help count cattle and especially loved to play outdoors. This love touched everyone who met this little girl with the beautiful curly hair. She gave so much love to her family, her friends, her pony “Princess,” her kitty-cats and anyone or anything that touched her little life.
But her greatest love was her Mommy and Daddy. There would be times when the grandparents and aunts and uncles would get upset because they would not get to babysit this precious little girl because “she was going with her Mommy and Daddy.” Their greatest love and joy was having little Zoie with them. Zoie was her family’s precious gift. Zoie was a precious gift for those who knew her in her short time here on this earth. And now Zoie is the Lord’s precious gift, the little angel with the beautiful curly hair in Heaven.
She will be deeply missed by her parents: Jay and Britt Gates of the home west of Anthony; her grandparents, Rex Gates and Janie Gates, also of Anthony, and Chris Hedlund and Janie Hedlund of Fountain Hills; her great-grandparents Hal and Zoa Hedlund of Montezuma, Kan.; one great great grandmother, Izel Dunning of Anthony; aunts and uncle Charlotte and Scott Neumeyer, Amy, Heidi and Payson Hedlund; great aunts and uncles Nancy Gates, Bill and Sandra Gates, Anita and Bill Foley, Roger and Stacey Goertz, Rodney and Lawana Goertz, Ty and Marsha Hedlund, Kyle and Jan Hedlund and Derk and Nola Hedlund; her cousins Castin and Elyssa Neumeyer; 16 second cousins; 11 third cousins; one fourth cousin.
Zoie has left a part of herself with all who knew her. She will live in our hearts forever.
Funeral services were held Nov. 6 in the Christian Church at Anthony with Pastor John Schnelle officiating. Jill Hibbard sang “Jesus Loves Me.” Mary Jo Hodson served as organist. A special song, “My Father’s Green Pasture,” was sung by Zoie’s great-grandfather, Hal Hedlund, and a special response “Spirit of the Living God” was sung by Zoie’s great-grandfather, grandfather and great uncles. Casket bearers were Payson Hedlund, Scott Neumeyer, Andy Burnet and Bruce Sternberger.
Interment was in the Spring Grove cemetery west of Anthony under the direction of the Elliott Mortuary.
Memorials may be given in memory of Zoie to either the Anthony Christian Church youth group or Feed the Children.
Bronson C. Roehrig, 26, of the Fort McDowell Indian Community died Nov. 14, 2001.
He was born Oct. 31, 1975 in Phoenix.
Survivors include his mother, Rosita Roehrig; daughter, Michelle Alveraz Roehrig; brothers, Gordon Roehrig Jr., Arlie Lee Mike, Richard Austin and Arlen Mike; sisters, Connie Pattea and Tina Austin; and grandfather, David W. Roehrig.
Visitation was Nov. 17 at the Roehrig resident with a Nov. 18 service at the Fort McDowell Arbor. Interment was at Fort McDowell cemetery.
Dr. Joseph Vaccaro
Joseph E. Vaccaro, M.D., 85, of Fountain Hills died Nov. 11, 2001.
Dr. Vaccaro was born June 8, 1916 in Milwaukee, Wis. A 1940 graduate of Marquette University Medical School, he served as a captain in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
A pediatrician, Dr. Vaccaro was in practice in Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, Wis. for more than 40 years. He was renowned for his work with the March of Dimes and was the first physician in Milwaukee County to administer the Salk polio vaccine.
He served as chief of pediatrics at St. Michael’s Hospital and was on the staff of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Milwaukee Children’s Hospital, and Misericordia Hospital, all located in the Milwaukee area.
Dr. Vaccaro is survived by his wife, Joyce, his sons, Eugene (Judy) Vaccaro, Paul (Susan) Vaccaro, Jon (Pam) Vacarro; his daughter, Jody (Michael) Nicotera; and six grandchildren.
Private services were held in Fountain Hills.
The family suggests memorial contributions be given to Chrysalis-Center for Battered Women & Abused Children, 2345 E. Thomas, No. 470, Phoenix, AZ 85016.
Bella Genin, 83, who lived in Fountain Hills since 1973, died Nov. 26, 2001.
She was born July 4, 1918 in Connecticut.
A retired clerical worker, Mrs. Genin was a member of Shalom of Fountain Hills.
She leaves her husband of 58 years, Jesse; son Michael and daughter-in-law Cheryl of Truckee, Calif.; and one grandchild.
A service will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, at Green Acres Mortuary, Hayden and McKellips, Scottsdale.
Olivia Turc, 79, of Fountain Hills died Nov. 25, 2001 at Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix.
Born Feb. 22, 1922 in Sharon, Pa., Mrs. Turc worked as a deli cook in restaurants during her adult career.
She was a member of St. George Eastern Orthodox Church and a former member of St. John the Baptist Romanian Orthodox Church.
Survivors include her daughters, Livia Puicon (Michael) of Fountain Hills and Rodica McNaughton (Ken) of Scottsdale; sisters, Oti Eakins of Hernando, Fla. and Emilia Koellen of Irving, Calif.; and one grandchild, Caius McNaughton.
Visitation will be Thursday, Nov. 29, from 7 to 8 p.m. at St. George Eastern Orthodox Church, 4530 E. Gold Dust Ave., Phoenix.
A graveside service will be held Friday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m. at Paradise Memorial Gardens, 9300 E. Shea Blvd., Scottsdale.
Ervin Trisko, 81, of Fountain Hills died Sunday, Dec. 2 at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital.
Mr. Trisko was born Aug. 12, 1920 in Melrose, Minn. He was the treasurer of the Chicago Musicians Union for 23 years. He was a professional musician who played many years for several well know swing troupes like the Frankie Masters, Buddy Moreno and Johnny Marlow bands.
Mr. Trisko is survived by his wife, Mae, of Fountain Hills; one son, Stephen, of Palatine, Ill.; two daughters, Karen Trisko (Robert), Laguna Niguel, Cal., and Lynn Spence (Frank) of Tempe, AZ; four brothers, Ralph Trisko of Maryland, Clarence of Lexington, KY, Joseph of Luverne, Minn.; Richard (Mary) of Arden Oak, Minn.; a sister, Lorraine Gerding (Gene) of Belgrade, Minn.; and two grandchildren, Mindy of New York, NY, and Heather of Palatine, Ill.
A memorial mass for Mr. Trisko will be held today, Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m. at the Church of the Ascension.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions can be made to the Church of the Ascension Building Fund, 12615 N. Fountain Hills Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.
William H. Benton, 86, of Fountain Hills died Nov. 28, 2001 at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospital.
Born April 6, 1915 in Oklahoma City, Okla., Mr. Benton was the retired owner of an auto glass company.
After attending Citadel College, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and RAF in England and later transferred to the U.S. Air Force and served as a decorated fighter pilot during World War II.
After the war he moved to Houston, Texas, where he raised a family and had a successful career in the auto glass industry.
In 1977 he retired to Scottsdale with his wife, Jean, and enjoyed playing golf, bridge, going to community concerts and music and spending time with his grandchildren.
His favorite pastime was taking everyone to Furrs Cafeteria and having chocolate chiffon pie.
Survivors include his wife, Jean, of Fountain Hills; sons, Bob of Scottsdale and Bill of New York; stepsons, David and Len Martin; daughter, Becky Brun of Denver, Colo.; and five grandchildren.
A service was held Dec. 4 at Messinger Fountain Hills Mortuary with a graveside service following at the National Memorial cemetery of Arizona.
John William Diedenhofen was born on April 19, 1909 in Devils Lake, N.D. He and an older sister, Florence, were raised in Grand Forks, N.D. and Minneapolis, Minn.
He was united in marriage on Dec. 28, 1937 to Eleanor "Lonnie" Kroner of LaCrosse, Wis.
Following her death over 30 years ago, he made his home in Fountain Hills.
On May 19, 2004, he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly following a fall near his home in Fountain Hills. He died peacefully with his Fountain Hills "family" by his side at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea. He was 95 years old.
Early in his life, he made the decision to be in the theater business. During a 45-year career, he managed theaters in Minneapolis, LaCrosse, Montevideo, Minn. and New Ulm, Minn. He had second and third careers as the manager of a retirement home in New Ulm and as a realtor for Nabers Realty in Fountain Hills.
John was a recovering alcoholic and was especially proud of his 56 years of sobriety. He was one of two founders of the Minnesota Brown County AA Chapter, was a founder of several other Minnesota AA chapters and was among the founders of the first Fountain Hills AA chapter.
He also served the community as the president of the New Ulm Rotary Club.
He was a founder and the first deacon of the Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church. One of his joys was singing in the choir for most of its existence. He remained a steadfast member of the Christian faith throughout his life.
As a young man, he was an excellent tennis player. He was also an avid duck hunter and golfer. It was at the Fountain Hills Golf Club (now known as Desert Canyon Golf Club) that he recorded his two holes-in-one.
Later in life, he enjoyed watching Arizona sports teams on TV, especially his beloved Diamondbacks. A recent highlight was watching Randy Johnson pitch a perfect game.
John’s special skill was in making new friends and keeping old ones. He had a smile and greeting for everyone he met. In his 30 years in Fountain Hills, he had become known to almost everyone and was universally loved.
He was preceded in death by his parents (John and Clara), his sister (Florence), his wife (Eleanor), and his daughter (Karen).
He is survived by his two sons and daughters-in-law; John and Corrine Diedenhofen of Reno, Nev., and Thomas and Josephine Diedenhofen of Elk Grove Village, Ill.; four grandchildren, Thomas (wife Julie) Diedenhofen of Bartlett, Ill., Michelle (husband Kevin) Quinlan of Oak Brook, Ill., Lara (husband Chris) Fletcher of Cordova, Tenn., and John (wife Jennifer) Diedenhofen of El Cajon, Calif.; and nine great grandchildren, Shane and Kayla Quinlan, Ronin and Bonnie Paige Diedenhofen, Madeleine and Thomas Fletcher, Jeffrey, Ashley and Tyler Diedenhofen.
Besides the immediate family mentioned above, he leaves to mourn his passing a host of loved ones in Fountain Hills. The thoughtful friends who celebrated special events with him, provided companionship during his trials and picked him up for daily coffee outings were truly an extended family to him.
John was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend. He will be greatly missed by all whose lives he touched.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday, May 25, at Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church. As per his wishes, John was cremated. A portion of his ashes will remain in Fountain Hills and another portion interred beside his wife and daughter at Oak Grove cemetery in LaCrosse, Wis.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church, 13001 N. Fountain Hills Blvd., Fountain Hills, AZ 85268, the Noon Kiwanis Club of Fountain Hills (P.O. Box 17831, Fountain Hills, AZ 85269) or the American Heart Association (2929 South 48th Street, Tempe, AZ 85282).