Rita Marie Bar, née Principe, was born August 21, 1948 in Cleveland, Ohio. Rita was the oldest of four children born to Michael and Margaret Principe.
Rita spent the first several years of her life in the neighborhood of Little Italy in Cleveland, Ohio. Rita loved the food and culture of her southern Italian roots, as well as the Czech roots on her mother’s side. As an adult, she compiled a family cookbook that explored the history and traditions of her family and that of her husband’s family. Rita learned to cook many of the Polish dishes, her husband, Tony grew up eating. This love of food and cooking was passed down to all of her children.
Rita met her husband, Tony Bar at a bar in Cleveland, Ohio. They showed off their awesome dance moves and danced the polka beautifully. She fell in love with Tony’s long blonde hair. They were a beautiful couple who shared a deep and lasting love for each other. Rita and Tony were married October 28, 1972 and would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this October. Her family will still celebrate this important milestone. She lives on always in Tony’s heart.
Tony and Rita had six children and fostered many more. Rita was passionate about her advocacy for children. In 1996, she and several of her children and husband marched on Washington D.C. at the Stand For Children March sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund. She believed strongly that no child should know poverty or hunger and that we all need to do everything we can to prevent child abuse and violence against children. She imparted a strong sense of social justice on all of her children.
In her forties, Rita went back to school and attended Ursuline College. Rita loved the time she spent there. She received a bachelor’s in fine arts and later a master’s degree in theology, graduating summa cum laude. Rita was raised Catholic and later attended The Unitarian church in her thirties and forties. She developed a deep devotion to St. Hildegard of Bingin, a German Benedictine abbess; a writer, composer, philosopher, mystic, visionary and healer. Rita passed on Pentecost, a reminder to everyone to keep doing good works.
Rita was an artist in every sense of the word. Her house reflected this in its bright colors and beautiful garden. Rita painted, sculpted and did pottery. She was also a skilled seamstress and sewed costumes and gowns. She remembered every birthday and would make beautiful handmade cards. She took her children weekly to the Cleveland Museum of Art for classes. She passed on this love for arts and crafts to her children and grandchildren.
Rita always had wonderful parties and everyone was welcome! The home she shared with Tony was lively and filled with the noise of her children, foster children, grandchildren and many neighborhood children.
Over the last few years of her life, Rita was supported with so much love by her sister, Maria, this loving bond, and loving support only grew stronger in the years following the death of Rita’s oldest son, Tony Jr. and his partner Rin. As a child, Maria has fond memories of Rita reading to her at night.
Rita’s family extended far beyond those related through biology. Many people were “adopted” into her extended family. Rita loved unconditionally and with all her heart, just as we loved her. Rita was quick to point out that no one was perfect, but that’s what made people so interesting, kind, and human. She loved the complexity of humanity.
She died surrounded by family and holding her husband’s hand as her son Andy played on the guitar, ‘Til There Was You’ by The Beatles. Her last breath wasn’t labored, but calm and she was beautiful.
Rita is now with her eldest son Tony Jr. somewhere in the great beyond. Rita is survived by her dear husband, Tony Sr. and her children, Christina (Naji), Andrew, Mary, Janet (Kurt), and Selena, as well as her sisters Susan and Maria and her little brother Raymond (Karen). She is also survived by her three dear foster sons, Kenny, Joey, and Nicky, and her beloved grandchildren: Julian, Gabriel, Tristan, James, Caroline, Zoe, Scottie, and Ryan, as well as many nieces, nephews, and the countless children she fostered and loved. Rilow, the family dog, protected her fiercely and lovingly until the end.
Please join us in celebrating Rita’s life at Lake View Cemetery. Services will be held at the Community Mausoleum on June 21, 2022 at 1 p.m. with a reception to follow. Rita loved yellow roses, however please consider donating to Providence House (https://www.provhouse.org/donate-online).