Rita Kentz Maher
Rita Kentz Maher, the life of the party, died July 18, 2016, at her summer home in Spring Lake NJ, surrounded by her family. Just two weeks earlier she swam in the salt water pool, but a heart condition brought a swift and peaceful end to a long and productive life. She was 99 years young. Born in Summit, NJ, Rita was one of four high-spirited Catholic girls. Her three sisters, Helen, Muriel and Anita, became nuns, but Rita, the eldest, had other plans. She married Brooklyn-born James P. Maher, and moved to Short Hills, where they began a family of six children. Later moving to a larger house in Summit, the six Maher kids were nothing compared to neighbors with 9, 10, even 13 kids. Though she had her hands full with her own kids, that didn’t stop Rita from adopting neighborhood kids, if only to make sure to take them, Pied Piper- like, to Sunday Mass. She loved golf, and played it well, most often at Baltusrol where she was one of the first female members. Tennis was another passion; she looked forward each year to her annual June party, where she gathered her closest multi-generational girlfriends for some tennis, iced tea and revelry. This year’s party was June 8. But not all was fun and games. Rita lived through the deaths of her husband and beloved eldest son, James P. Maher III. She was sustained by her deep faith and her many dear friends. After her husband’s death, Rita began a successful career in real estate; many of her clients became life-long friends. And she was the most loyal of friends to all. Her poems and homemade cards featuring New Yorker cartoons were legendary. Rita loved young people, and young people loved her. She taught CCD at St. Rose of Lima parish until a year ago. “Who is your best friend?,” she would ask, and her fifth graders would answer, “Jesus.” Named NJ Catechist of the Year in 2009, her nomination described her as a woman of “unwavering faith” who lived her life “in service to others.” To know Rita was to love her; she will be sorely missed. She is predeceased by her husband, her son James, and her dear companion, Bill Betteridge. She is survived by Marita Maher, Joan Anne Maher, John Maher (Ellen), Beth Maher (Peter Horvath), Virginia Farnum (Scott), and nine grandchildren, Andres, Karin, Bridget, Ryan (Jenny), Jimmy, Emma, Patrick, Grace and Andrew, all of whom loved their “Mumsers” as much as she loved them. A visitation will be held on Friday, July 22, 2016 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Bradley, Smith & Smith Funeral Home, 415 Morris Avenue, Springfield, NJ 07081. A Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, July 23, 2016 at St. Rose of Lima Church, 50 Short Hills Avenue, Short Hills, NJ 07078. An interment will follow in the parish cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth’s, Convent Station, NJ, or Dominican Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, Summit, NJ.