Rita Marie Agnew was born on Dec. 30, 1918, in Olean, N.Y., the daughter of William and Mary Conroy. She received her education at St. Mary’s Catholic School and, in 1936, graduated from Olean High School. Her family lived along the Alleghany River, accounting for lots of entertainment and the source of many future stories. Her colorful family consisted of her brothers, Victor, William, Leo and James, and sisters Mary and Anna. The family remained close all their lives.
While working at Olean’s Chevrolet dealer Murray Page, she met and married A. Roy Agnew in January 1940. During World War II, she was one of the numerous American wives who maintained the home front, raising two daughters and a new baby boy while her husband served in the Seabees in the south seas of the Pacific. In 1952, the family took a daring move in their lives, sold out their auto body business and loaded their possessions in the car and headed west and into the unknown to start a new life. They landed in Provo, Utah, for a short six weeks, then onto Worland, Wyo., where they remained until 1954.
They then went on to Billings, where they would remain for the rest of their lives. Rita worked as a bookkeeper for many years at Interstate Truck and Equipment Co., Wilcox Volkswagen, and Smith and Jones Datsun. Her hobbies were dressmaking, crossword puzzles and knitting.
Her husband passed away after a lifetime together in 2007, and all her siblings and their spouses also are gone. Her children, who all are living in Billings, are Thomas (Marlene) Agnew; daughters Joyce (Tim) Powers and Jeannette (John) Grotbo. She has five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.
Private family graveside services are planned.