Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Loss of a Team Member

We were sad to hear that Rita had passed away yesterday after some health challenges that she has been fighting fiercely in recent months.  I knew Rita originally as the quiet volunteer with a beautiful smile that would come to every work day and help at our plant sales.  I think I met her over seven years ago.  I never realized she had a PhD in accounting and was a professor as well!  Her value to the garden was immeasurable not only as a volunteer but ultimately as our accounting person and bookkeeper.  She sure had a way with numbers and her smile and positive attitude on life will be missed.  She was a wonderful person with a huge fan club at Rotary Botanical Gardens and beyond.  Our collective condolences go out to her family.
Rita J. Czaja

May 24, 1952 – August 19, 2014

Rita Czaja, age 62, of Janesville, passed away Aug. 19, 2014, at home. She was born May 24, 1952, in Chicago, IL, the daughter of John and the late Loretta Czaja. Rita graduated from West Leyden High School in Northlake, IL. She graduated magna cum laude from Bowling Green State University, OH, with a BS in accounting and information systems. Rita was a CPA, working at Deloitte & Touche and Montgomery Ward in Chicago. After obtaining a Ph.D. in accounting from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Rita taught at Michigan State University, Lansing, MI; Northern Kentucky University, outside of Cincinnati, OH; and the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, WI. She was a long-time member of the American Society of Women Accountants and a past president of the Chicago chapter (1982-1984). After retiring, Rita volunteered at the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville, WI, which blossomed into a job she loved. She enjoyed travel, photography, flowers, gardening, decorating her home, making jewelry, and baking bread. Rita cared deeply about her relationships as well as her work and other projects and worked ceaselessly to do her best to excel at them.

Rita is survived by her father, John Czaja; twin sister, Sally (Bob) Schoenfeld of Whitehouse Station, NJ; a brother, Stephen (Edi) Czaja of Broadview, IL; and beloved friend, Marlene Denson of Janesville, WI.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Rotary Botanical Gardens would be appreciated. At her request, funeral arrangements will be private.

Special thanks to family and friends for their prayers and compassion, and to Home Instead and Heartland Hospice for their care in Rita’s final weeks.
We had a great day at the gardens.  Most of the grounds staff later attended an off-site retreat in the afternoon but the gardens were quite busy with staff, volunteers and lots of visitors.  I gave a tour to the staff from Beautiful Blooms Landscape & Design (Wauwatosa, WI) who visited the gardens for the first time.  What a great group and it was nice to meet the owner, Loriena in person and "talk shop." I did some other odds and ends as well.  Terry, John, Cheryl, Cindy and Pat all had a wide range of duties out in the gardens today with Terry staying to hold down the fort in the afternoon.  Below are some recent shots of the gardens.
'Blazin' Rose' bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida) - annual
'Golden Dreams' coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) with silver spurflower (Plectranthus argentatus) - both annuals
'Thailand Giant' elephant ear (Colocasia gigantea) looking good - tropical
some of our New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hybrida) that we're trialing
cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) - annual
the Jungle Garden today

We had great volunteer help today.  Above are Kathy (left) and Eva speeding by to go weed in multiple areas.  Kay (below) was joined by Patrea and they also bounced between areas for weeding.  Dr. Gredler was in for some mowing and Maury ran some errands for us as well.  The third photo down shows (from left to right), my ugly mug, Myrt, Nancy and Mary.  Gena was off camera but all three ladies weeded in the Japanese garden and Jungle Garden.  Marv and Marianne worked their magic on the moss islands and portions of the fern & moss garden.  They do a great job.  Shawn W. was in to clean up the water features and Janice worked with our superb volunteers from the Chestnut House.  We also saw Dick H., Dr. Yahr, Nancy N. and many others today.  Further below are more photos from today.

'Purple Prince' zinnia (Zinnia elegans) - annual
'Prestige Scarlet' cockscomb (Celosia cristata) - annual
'Blazin' Lime' bloodleaf (Iresine hybrida) - annual
a view from the North point garden this morning

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