Rita Marie Cottie, 64, of Elburn, passed away at Delnor Hospital in Geneva on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, following complications after years of battling an auto-immune deficiency disease similar to Muscular Dystrophy.
She was born April 4, 1948, in Aurora, the daughter of Truman “Curly” and Julia (Hjelmberg) Halsey.
Rita grew up in Elburn and attended local schools. She graduated from Kaneland High School with the class of 1966.
Following graduation, Rita followed her mother, along with many other members of her family, to Moline Malleable, an iron company in St. Charles, where she would spend over 20 years in the payroll department. Later, after Moline closed, Rita worked for a time at Curtis Breeding Farm, but spent the last 16 years at Illinois Hydraulic Corporation in Elgin.
Throughout her working years, she was never far from her husband, Jim, as he owned and operated several bars locally and in Wisconsin.
Appropriately enough, Rita met Jim Cotti while he was tending bar. The mirror behind him offered more than a reflection of themselves—it showed a future partnership where they would work and love, side by side, through thick and thin. They were united in marriage at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on the hottest day of the year, July 11, 1970.
They began their new life together in Lily Lake for several years until they moved to Elburn in 1982 after purchasing the Second Inning Tavern in Elburn, which also was known as Ducky’s, and now known as Knucklehead’s.
Ft. Atkinson, Wis., was not only their home for several years, but also their place of business when they established Cotti’s Sunset Lodge on the lake. It wasn’t long before Elburn called them home again in 1996, where they continued to make memories with family and friends, their bonds only growing stronger with every day.
Growing up with three brothers, Rita balanced her feminine side with the ability to stand her ground and set her brothers straight when they got out of hand. She was especially good at dodging punishments, leaving the lions share to her rambunctious brothers.
Rita grew up with a huge heart and a tremendous love of children. She was generous to a fault and never met a stranger. She never made friends, but instead “adopted” people into the family. Rita also had a determined spirit that was quiet but strong. Her persistent nature helped her to overcome many obstacles in her life, and she was first in line to help others with their own trials.
Rita didn’t live in a material world. Rather, she lived in a world made more beautiful by the friendships made and kindness shone each and every day. Her loss will be felt throughout the community, but her memory lives on as a shining legacy for her family and friends to cherish forever.
She is survived by her loving husband of 42 years, Jim Cotti; one son, Chad Cotti, his wife, Kasi Koshollek, and their son, Edison; three brothers, Chris (Cindy) Halsey, Vern (Anita Hughes) Halsey and Rick (Kathy) Halsey; many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and a community of friends stretching across Illinois and Wisconsin.
She is preceded in death by her parents and infant sister, Julie Lynn.
Visitation was held on Saturday, with a memorial service to celebrate her life following visitation, at Conley Funeral Home in Elburn. Rev. Lisa Kruse-Stafford, pastor of Cornerstone Methodist Church, officiated. A private cremation burial followed at a later date.
A memorial has been established in her name to benefit her favorite charities. Checks may be made to the “Rita Cotti Memorial” and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, 60119. Tributes may also be forwarded to the same address or on the web at www.conleycare.com, where you can also find her full life story.