Rita Kathleen Greenup (Ostby) Ulrich, 72, passed away peacefully in her sleep of natural causes on Aug. 19, 2019, in Cody, Wyoming. Rita’s death was an unexpected shock to family and friends, who enjoyed her vibrant, engaging personality to the very end.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Cody United Methodist Church (1405 Beck Ave., Cody).
Rita was born on Sept. 10, 1946, in Great Falls. She graduated from the University of Montana (Missoula) in 1969 with a degree in education, and put her schooling to good use in years to follow as an elementary school teacher in the Montana towns of Clancy, Sidney and Lakeside. Her love for children, bubbly personality, and inquiring mind made her a favorite with her students. Even after retirement, she continued to evoke big, happy smiles from her grandchildren and the children of friends.
The lives of many were touched by this happy and giving woman, including parishioners of several United Methodist congregations where her late husband the Rev. John Ulrich served as pastor. Her generosity to charities and individuals was abundant, and reached far beyond her religious faith. She possessed a cheerful and upbeat view of life, which she intensely loved and enjoyed.
Rita was a self-described “free spirit” with a passion for baking sweets, making meals for her family, playing bongo drums, and listening to her hero and favorite musician Neil Diamond. Her collection of Neil Diamond songs and memorabilia is impressive. She loved pets, and took her sweet dog Heidi on walks every day. Gwen (Cabin Cat) will also miss pleasant times with Rita on her porch and foot of the bed.
Like many, Rita valued family ties above all else, and she was a “people person” with many special friendships. After her husband’s death in 2015, she moved to Cody to be close to her daughter Greta and mother Ruby.
She was preceded in death by her father Hugh (Pete) Greenup, and second husband of 25 years, the Rev. John Ulrich.
Rita is survived by her mother Ruby Birrer (Greenup) Sheppard of Cody (94 years of age, nicknamed “Bear”); younger siblings, Kathryn (Bud) Beebe of Fair Oaks, California, and Hugh Greenup of Philipsburg, Montana; children, Grant (Jeannie) Ostby of Cut Bank, Greta (Chuck) Adams of Cody, and Luke (Marissa) Ostby of Clancy, Montana; grandchildren Brandon Ostby, Sloane Ostby and London Ostby; and first husband Neal (Sandie) Ostby of Clancy. Rita is also survived by abundant extended family, including close cousins Connie Mecham of Missoula and Rita Annabelle Gergurich of Polson.
Donations on Rita’s behalf can be made to the United Methodist Church in Cody or a charity of your choice.
Ashes will be interred at Riverside Cemetery in Cody by family at a later date.