Rita Margaret (Joy) Willard, 96, of North Quincy and Braintree died peacefully surrounded by her loving family on January 7, 2013, at Harbor House in Hingham where she resided for the past four years. Wife of the late Ralph B. Willard, she leaves her daughters and their husbands: Geraldine and Robert Swirbalus of Weymouth, Barbara and Michael McCarthy of Braintree, Marie and Colin Riley of Weymouth, and Nancy and John Collins of Marshfield; and her son, Richard, and his wife Kathy of Virginia. A Gold Star Mother, her son W.O. Ralph J. Willard was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster and Bronze Star, while serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam where he was killed in action in 1968. Grandmother of Renee, Ralph, Matthew, Leah, Ryhan, Evan, Kerin, Jill, and the late, Nicole M. Clifford. Great-grandmother of Stephen, Makayla, Jack, Thomas, Isabella and Nicholas. Also, mother-in-law of the late Stephen J. Clifford. Mrs. Willard was born in Cambridge, one of 11 children of Michael and Louise Joy, all of whom predeceased her. She grew up in Dorchester where she attended school and met her husband at the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory in Lower Mills. They married in 1940 at St. Ambrose in Dorchester. In the early 1950s, the Willard's moved to North Quincy where, as a homemaker, she raised her growing family. She loved going to nearby Wollaston Beach, visiting family at Humarock Beach, and enjoyed boating, shopping, baking and reading. A devout Catholic, she was a communicant at Sacred Heart Church in North Quincy for many years. In 1982, she and her husband traveled by bus with other Gold Star parents from Massachusetts to attend the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC. In 1996, they moved to East Braintree to be near their children and their families.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the visitation in the Keohane Funeral Home, 785 Hancock Street, Quincy on Friday morning from 10:30 -11:30am followed by a Funeral Mass in Sacred Heart Church, 386 Hancock Street, North Quincy, Friday at 12 Noon.
Rita will be buried with her husband Ralph at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Rita may be made to WO1 Ralph J. Willard Memorial, c/o 77 Stage Coach Drive, Marshfield, MA 02050.