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Obituaries » Rita Austrins

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February 17, 1944 - March 15, 2024

Rita will be laid to rest next to her parents at Riverside Cemetery, Kalamazoo, in a graveside service which will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at 1:00 p.m.

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Rita Austrins was born February 17, 1944, by her grandfather’s farm near Kuldiga, Latvia. Due to the unrest of the Second World War, the Austrins family fled Latvia when Rita was just six months old. In 1949, after five years in a Displaced Persons camp in Wurzburg, Germany, Rita immigrated with her family to the United States, and they worked off their passage on the Music family’s farm in Ligonier, PA. The Austrins family resettled in Benton Harbor, MI in 1952, where Rita attended Benton Harbor Public Schools, played oboe and flute in the symphony orchestra, and played glockenspiel in the Tigers marching band.

Rita attended the University of Michigan and Western Michigan University for an undergraduate degree in Medical Technology, and she worked for Borgess Hospital until she earned a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University. Her career flourished, with many years spent in Rochester, NY working for Eastman Kodak, followed by a long tenure as an independent contractor in Atlanta, GA. In Atlanta Rita specialized in creating course work that utilized computer skills and audio-visual aids. Some of her clients included Xerox University, who hired her to create and run training courses, and the State of Georgia, who Rita assisted with building business relations for the State and various clients. Rita returned to live in Kalamazoo, MI in 2003, where she was able to enjoy the company of family, friends, and the Latvian community in the area.

Rita was preceded in death by her parents, Austra and Karlis Austrins, her sister Aija (Auseklis) Kengis, her brothers Alvis Auseklis and Ints “Andy” Austrins, and her nephew Alex Auseklis. She is survived by her sister Kristine Austrins; her nephews Arnis Kengis, Roberts Kengis (Shel), Peters Kengis (Stephanie), Eric Austrins (Kim), and Benjamin Stap (Maddie); her nieces Nicole Austrins (Jose) and Anna Rita Auseklis; and ten grandnieces and grandnephews.