Rita Denise (Presley) Mitchell
1947 - 2017
Rita Denise (Presley) Mitchell, born and raised in Boonville, CA, graduated in 1965 from Ukiah High School and was a waitress at the House of Garner restaurant, where she met David Mitchell. They married and moved immediately to Santa Barbara where they celebrated a 47 year honeymoon.
Rita’s magnetic personality landed her a job offer while having lunch at the El Paseo Restaurant where she worked from ‘70-75. She was a much beloved waitress, affectionately known as Walky Talky, La Chuperosa (Hummingbird) and Magic, monikers lovingly bestowed upon the friendly redhead by her captivated admirers. Her quick wit and ready smile endeared male and female alike. She loved the activity of the Fiesta celebration, a love that never waned.
In ‘72, she and David purchased the 7-Eleven on Cliff Dr, where she assisted David while holding her job at the Paseo and giving birth to their 2nd son. In ‘74, Rita’s confident and straight forwardness earned her a job as manager of the 82 unit Park East Apts across from Alameda Park, where she again won the affection of many.
The couple sold the Mesa store in ‘77 and bought the 7-Eleven at Castillo & Montecito St. One week later Rita was lying in the hospital in a coma, the result of an auto accident that would leave her paralyzed on the left side and confined to a wheelchair. Due to brain trauma, she would be left with speech difficulties and short term memory loss. A stay of 9 months in the hospital, 2 of which comatose, was punctuated by her accepting forgiveness while in the deepest depths of the coma, whereupon she began to cry, opened her eyes, peered into David’s eyes, relaxed and squeezed his hand. A temp of 106°, pneumonia and a staff infection had been defeated! An hour later she was sitting up and eating with a temp of 97.6°, this, the day after medical staff had suggested removing life support!
From outward appearance, it would seem that Rita’s effect on others, her quick wit, her genuine disarming smile, tenacity, and delightful laughter, had been defeated, but it was not to be. She, with her new found faith, became an integral part of Vineyard Church and for the next 39 years displayed her spunky gift of drawing people together with her ever-present smile, laughter, and playful sparring. She took immense delight in her family and friends, together filling the air with laughter.
Rita finished well, still beaming her generous smile after suffering the heart attack that ushered her into the waiting arms of her Designer, Creator and Father. With family at her side, she took His hand and stepped into His embrace. Her family, deeply saddened by her departure, never-the-less rejoices in her promotion. There is now a raucous redhead flitting about heaven eliciting volumes of joy! She is survived by husband, David; sons, John Combs & Brandon Mitchell; grandchildren, Amanda Tilley, Tessa Mitchell, Chloe Burt & Zane Combs; four great grandchildren and siblings, Gary Presley & Faye Andrade.
A celebration of her life will be held at First Baptist Church, 949 Veronica Springs Rd, Sat. April 1st at 2 PM, meal and sharing to follow. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to YWAM Ships, info online.