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Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)

08 Oct 21 - 10:45 AM (#4122292)
Subject: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Dan Schatz

Many have heard the news through Facebook, but not all, so with Bill Day’s permission, I'm posting the sad news that Rita Ferrara (Ferrara on Mudcat), a longtime stalwart of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, died last week. Many on Mudcat know her as one of the Program Committee members for the Getaway, or perhaps you know her by her art or her voice. Here’s my remembrance:

I’ve known Rita Ferrara pretty much all my life. She was the magical voice singing an old ballad, accompanied on the MacArthur harp, or sometimes (when we were very lucky) a song from her Italian background. She was a thinker, organizer, and constant presence - at open sings, at festivals, at gatherings in my home or hers - always with Bill Day at her side.

As I grew up I came to see just how much beyond her voice and talent made Rita remarkable. For one thing she spoke with children and teenagers like they were people - a rare and precious gift. I can’t think of one time in all the years I knew her that she ever talked down to anyone. She had a way of offering real care and support to the people around her without intruding or becoming overbearing. There was no artifice to her - just genuine kindness and thoughtfulness.

Rita was so sensitive and emotionally grounded that I doubt “tough” would be the first word to come to many people’s minds, but she was that too. For one thing, anyone who makes a living through art has to be pretty tough. It's more than that, though - she went through incredible hardship, physically and emotionally, and each time came out stronger, more thoughtful, and more attuned to herself and others. She wasn’t afraid to be open about whatever she was going through, but she also listened to the people she spoke with, taking their words to heart. When she shared her struggles with you, she could make you feel like the conversation made a real difference.

It is my belief that as we live, we give part of ourselves to the people around us - the people we have loved and cared for. Those parts of who we are live on long past our lifetimes, and are given in turn to others. I know that Rita’s gifts remain with me, and I fervently believe the goodness and beauty she brought to the world will live long past her years with us.

My love goes out to Bill, Darriel and Jocelyn - as I write that it feels so odd, because my fingers automatically began typing “Bill and Rita.” It was always “Bill and Rita.” And I guess it still is, in a sense. Rita will always be part of us.
Rita's posts.

08 Oct 21 - 11:27 AM (#4122297)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Stilly River Sage

Thanks, Dan.

She also had a few as a Guest.

08 Oct 21 - 12:21 PM (#4122302)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Bill D

Thank you Dan and SRS... I have not been able to compose anything without tearing up. I will try to add some thoughts as I can think better. Rita.... made music all her life and was learning songs and ballads until last year. Look thru her posts and see some...

   I was so fortunate to have her for 40 years.

08 Oct 21 - 01:14 PM (#4122310)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: voyager

Here's a tribute to Ferrara from our epic Mudcat-FSGW getaway -

Mudcat-FSGW Group Photo ('99)


08 Oct 21 - 01:41 PM (#4122312)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Joe Offer

I think today is the first time I've attended a Getaway without seeing Rita there. I always looked forward to seeing her. Every year, she took me aside for a long conversation. I'll miss her and her wisdom and her love so much.

08 Oct 21 - 04:23 PM (#4122326)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Janie

Glad to see this thread started.

Rita was a radiant human being. So radiant that her light will long shine. In a generation or 2 many folks won't know the source of that light, but they will still see better, even not knowing the source.

08 Oct 21 - 06:31 PM (#4122336)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Jeri

I found out she'd died because somebody said something on someone else's Facebook page. Glad to see this thread. Sad for the reason.

Rita was always smart, strong, kind, creative, and generous.
I took a bunch of photos of a hummingbird zipping around the jewel weed in my back yard, and she asked me if she could use a photo for her art - I think it was wood burning. She said I could have any hummingbird pice of her art that I wanted. I never asked for any, but they were great.

She held her community together. I'm so very sad I'll never see her again.
My love goes out to that community, and especially to her family of all varieties.

08 Oct 21 - 06:59 PM (#4122339)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Rapparee

I am sorry. Sorry for the loss of such a person as Rita, and sorry for those of us she left behind.

Bill, you were very, very lucky.

08 Oct 21 - 11:24 PM (#4122356)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (2021)
From: Bill D

There is thread below on "Vintage singers of 1941"
Rita was one... in fact, she was two. Her birthday was Nov. 18, but the anniversary of her heart transplant was Oct. 25 (I'm almost sure)

   She tended these last few years to celebrate 20+ years of a new heart rather than being almost 80.
Few people crammed as much into life as Rita, and VERY few made more use of 'extra' years. Art, music, wife, mother, an ear for the problems of others and a facilitator for things that needed doing.
   Last Spring she was out fighting the vines that were trying to eat our house & Azeleas.... this Spring, she could only smile at the flowers, so friends and I brought lots of them in as long as she could see them. It helped.

Thanks to all who knew her and cared.

09 Oct 21 - 10:58 AM (#4122409)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Waddon Pete

I never met Rita but judging by the thoughts of others, that was my loss. I have added her name into the "In Memoriam" roll. My thoughts are with all those who know and love her.

11 Oct 21 - 06:08 AM (#4122581)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Roger the Skiffler

Sorry to hear this. Another Mudcat stalwart lost to us.

11 Oct 21 - 10:44 PM (#4122662)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: GUEST,Lin

Are there any videos or youtube concerts where I can hear Rita singing? I am in Southern California and although I had heard or read about Rita over the years (not sure if it was in a magazine),or some online folk site but from reading posts here, she was very talented and perhaps mostly known in the Pacific northwest and northern California areas.
If there is an online site I can see Rita singing, please send link. I did try looking her up on YouTube but couldn't find anything or anywhere to hear her singing.
Thank you.

12 Oct 21 - 07:36 PM (#4122720)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: GUEST,Rebecca Lieberman

Dear Bill,

I just learned that Rita passed away. Mudcat has such wonderful tributes to her. I can only imagine how you feel, what a loss it is for you. You have shared so many years with her. I will miss knowing that she is here with us. I will never forget her song when my sister Linda and brother-in-law David died. And I will think of her on November 18th, which was also my father's birthday. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Very fondly, Rebecca

13 Oct 21 - 05:44 AM (#4122751)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)

When I worked in the States in 97-98, Rita (and Bill) were extremely kind and helpful to me and I have many happy memories of time spent in their company. RIP Rita

Gwilym Davies

13 Oct 21 - 09:28 AM (#4122765)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Bill D

I have several recordings of Rita, but not online... yet...
Here is one short one taken by our own Amos Jessup of Rita playing her zither and singing "Santa Lucia".
(Amos was standing on a chair and sort of automatically starts singing along right into his camera.)

I will see if I can get my other good video of Rita and a friend she had just met doing "Oh, Solo Mio" in a different year uploaded. I have never put anything on YouTube yet.

You can see many Getaway videos by just entering "FSGW Getaway" in YouTube search.

And thank you, Rebecca... she worked so hard to get that song for Linda 'just right'.

13 Oct 21 - 11:16 AM (#4122788)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: GUEST,Carly

As an organizer, Rita was meticulous about the smallest detail, and would spend hours figuring out how to improve on her plans. As an artist, she was also meticulous, eventually choosing the smallest of surfaces to carefully burn and then paint in tiny brushstrokes, with luminous results .Rita knew how to listen, really listen, to people; I received the benefit of that talent many times. When she sang, she sang with her whole soul in her voice and her face; we who heard her sing were fortunate, indeed. Rita loved plants and flowers; she married Bill in a beautiful garden, and both grew and painted many gardens' worth over the years. I own necklaces on which she depicted jack-in-the-pulpits, and morning glories, and upon request, she produced an enchanting rose on a box for my mother, who loved Rita as much as I did. We talked and laughed and cried together, through good times and bad, for decades. She was my dear friend; I will remember her well. My love and sympathy to Bill, Darriel and Jocelyn.

Carly Gewirz

13 Oct 21 - 11:22 AM (#4122790)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Dan Schatz

Oh, that video. Rita's playing and singing, and so many friends no longer with us. *SNIFF*


13 Oct 21 - 12:31 PM (#4122798)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Bill D

Oh, Carly.. so many times I'd wake up in the wee hours and find her at her work station doing exactly all those meticulous things. She also kept copious notes and journals fretting about what and how ...and when... to make things. That's also when she'd learn songs....
She crammed about a hundred years into her brief 'almost 80'.

22 Nov 21 - 04:00 AM (#4126950)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: wysiwyg


23 Nov 21 - 09:23 AM (#4127071)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Bill D

Hugs always welcome, Susan. Local folks have been wonderful.. and our son and his wife are my serious support. I am so lucky that I have stayed in good health into my 80s so I could see her thru those last months.
Take care.....

24 Nov 21 - 10:01 AM (#4127157)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: wysiwyg

Yer quite the spring chicken, Bill! ;-)


24 Nov 21 - 06:48 PM (#4127197)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: Bill D

A real muddled clucker... ;)

25 Nov 21 - 10:28 AM (#4127232)
Subject: RE: Obit: Rita Ferrara (1941-2021)
From: wysiwyg