Rita Rae (Cook) Brunstedt, 87, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her children and family, on June 17, 2023, in Bakersfield, California. She was born on February 24, 1936, in Akron, Ohio, to Harold and Martha Cook. While working at a coffee shop in Ohio, Rita met her future husband, Jack, and soon after they moved to Bakersfield where they made their home, raised their family of 8 children, and enjoyed 43 years of marriage. Rita was employed by Standard School District for several years in multiple capacities, including cafeteria aide, yard aide, janitor, and Special Education instructional aide.
Rita is survived by her children Debbie Woods (Russ), Jacque Gafford (Bobby), Lisa Billingsley(Ken), Michael Brunstedt, Stephen Brunstedt (Holly), Amy Hickok (Mike), and Jennifer Hill (Jeff). She is also survived by son-in-law, Jim Copeland, 27 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Jack Brunstedt, and daughter, Cathy Copeland.
Rita enjoyed ballroom dancing; never missing an episode of Dancing with the Stars, feeding her hummingbirds, and she never turned away a stray porch kitty. She loved Nascar and the Indy 500. Rita also enjoyed sunbathing, watching The Food Network, making her famous pancakes on Sunday for her family, and dining in the party room. One of her most favorite songs was The Gambler; she sang it countless times in her last years.
Rita was a devout member of Christ the King Church in Oildale, where a viewing and Rosary will be held on Monday, June 26, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. A Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, at 10:00 a.m., at Christ the King Church in Oildale with Msgr. Stephen Frost officiating. A graveside service will immediately follow at Greenlawn Cemetery, 3700 River Blvd, Bakersfield, following which a Celebration of Life will be held at Christ the King Parish Hall.
Our family would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Hoffmann Hospice nurses, Michelle and Cheree, and Hoffmann Hospice volunteer, Mitzi, who took such loving care of our mother during these last few months. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to her caregiver, our sister, Amy, for the most loving and devoted care that our mother could have been given.