Rita was born in Erskine, Minnesota, to Dr. William & Loretta Kostick and spent her childhood in Fertile, Minnesota, with her parents and four siblings. She was a cheerleader in high school, sophomore class president, active in student government, and a debate team member, which made it to the state finals during her senior year. Her father was the only physician in Fertile. Rita worked in his office and often accompanied him on house calls. These experiences helped to set her course to go into the medical field.
After graduating from high school in 1959, Rita attended the University of North Dakota, obtaining her RN degree and starting her nursing career. She married David Polzin; they had four children and lived in various cities in South Dakota and then Bismarck, North Dakota. Rita held various positions in hospitals and nursing homes and continued to do so following her divorce from David.
In 1982, Rita moved to Grand Junction to become the Director of Nursing at Community Hospital, a position she held for seven years. She later worked for home healthcare agencies and was also the healthcare nurse for the Department of Energy’s compound in Grand Junction, where among other things, she taught CPR to over 700 employees. She said it was one of her most fun jobs because she met many people. After forty years of nursing, she ended her career as a home team manager for what is now HopeWest Hospice.
Rita met and married local attorney Dan Griffin in 1983, and they had 39 years together before her death. She helped him raise his young son, Doug Griffin, who was living with him at the time, and she attended school events, including basketball and soccer games. Rita loved sporting events, particularly football. She was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and cheered for them all her adult life. She and Dan enjoyed watching the men’s and women’s basketball games at Colorado Mesa University. They enjoyed many times in La Jolla, California, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as well as trips to various locations in the U.S. They also spent time in Taipei, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. They enjoyed a cruise to Alaska and one in the Caribbean. A special trip was a European river cruise, starting in Prague and ending in Paris, with a side trip to Normandy.
Rita was a happy, outgoing person who made friends easily. She was a good bridge player and belonged to several bridge clubs. She treasured the friends she made playing bridge as well as her friends in her “Lunch Bunch.”
Recently Rita received great enjoyment from her two great-granddaughters, Mila, age 4, and Ali, age 2. She Face Timed with them constantly and enjoyed their antics. They brought smiles and lots of laughter to her.
Rita was diagnosed with cancer in December of 2022; after receiving input from oncologists and considering her odds, she chose quality of life over chemo treatments with their side effects. She celebrated her 82nd birthday with a “Celebration of Life” party attended by more than 100 friends and family members. She passed away on May 6, 2023, which coincidentally fell on National Nurses Day, under the care of HopeWest Hospice.
She was preceded in death by her parents and infant son Thomas Polzin. She is survived by her husband Dan; children Cathy Polzin, Nancy Polzin, Tim (Mary) Polzin, Elizabeth (Michael) Gibbs, Doug (Heidi) Griffin; grandchildren Jennifer (Nick) Polzin, Gabe Griffin, Alex Griffin; step-grandchildren Sarah Ternes, Sean Sullivan, Morgan Rice; step-great-grandchildren Lydia Ternes, Jed Ternes, Owen Ternes, Millie Ternes, Nolan Rice; siblings Barbara (Tom) Teresi, Bill (Ilze) Kostick, Joe (Aide) Kostick, Mary DuFour; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Rita was short in stature and often teased about it. Some good friends gave her a sign which read, “I’m not short; I’m fun-sized.” That was Rita- fun, happy, full of giggles and laughter; she had beautiful blue eyes and a wonderful smile.
Since Rita celebrated her life while alive, no public services were planned. There will be a private family graveside service later this summer at the cemetery in Fertile, where her cremains will be placed next to her infant son, Thomas, which was Rita’s desire.
The family thanks all the friends for their love and kindness extended during Rita’s illness. The family is extremely grateful to the people at HopeWest Hospice, who cared for Rita with kindness, compassion, and professionalism. Our community is fortunate to have such an organization, including its Ferris Care Center, in Grand Junction.
Honor Rita with a donation to HopeWest
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3090 N. 12th Street
Grand Junction, CO 81506