On Tuesday, July 19th 2022, Rita Theresa Acosta Sander, PhD, loving wife, aunt and grandmother, peacefully passed away at the age of 76, surrounded by her family. Rita was born on Wednesday, February 6th 1946 in Kansas City, Kansas to Francisco and Mary, nee Hernandez, Acosta.
She was accomplished and devoted to Nursing throughout her entire life and maintained active Nursing licenses in both Missouri and Illinois through 2022. Rita received her Bachelor’s degree from Avila College in Kansas City, Missouri in 1971; her Master’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIU-E) in 1987 and her Doctorate degree from St. Louis University in 2004, all in Nursing. Rita practiced Nursing for 40 years from 1971 through her retirement in 2011 and specialized in Critical Care, Spinal and Renal Trauma. She served on teaching faculty for Nursing degree programs at Belleville Area College, St. Louis University and SIU-E where she served as Assistant Professor, Nursing and Chair for a number of graduate committees from 2004 to 2011. Rita was a published author and wrote two books on acute renal failure & spinal trauma and numerous articles across a broad spectrum of medical journals. She was recognized by her professional peers with awards and leadership positions across a variety of professional associations. In her later professional years, while a professor at SIU-E, Rita served on the Board & Steering committee of PandemicPrep.org and received research grants focused on Pandemic Flu and BioTerrorism preparedness. On September 2nd 1967, Rita married Edward Sander at Redemptorist Catholic Church in Kansas City, Missouri with whom she raised two sons, Edward Jr. and Aaron.
Rita had a true love for life. She loved to travel with her husband, Edward, and enjoyed adventuring through the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument and Death Valley, Grand Tetons, Catskills, Hilton Head, Pacific Coast, Tennessee Mountains and the Colorado River. She loved to dance and teach her children and grandchildren how to Salsa, Cha-Cha and the dances of her youth, like “The Stroll” and “The Jitterbug”. She loved music in all forms and stayed current with the popular music of the times, including her grandchildren’s favorites. Some of her favorite songs were “Besame Mucho”, “Perfidia” and “Spanish Eyes”. Rita was warm, compassionate, quick with a tear at the end of any romantic comedy and loved staying current on her children and grandchildren’s lives via Facebook.
Rita was preceded in death by her father, Francisco, her mother, Mary, and her sister, Connie.
She is survived by her husband, Edward; their sons, Edward Jr. and Aaron; their grandchildren, Alina, Matthew, Jackson, Lyla and Maya and nephews, nieces and cousins across the country.
Visitation will be held on Monday, July 25th from 5:00-7:00 pm at Nordike Funeral Home at 15 East Hanover in New Baden, IL.
A requiem mass service will be held at St. George Catholic Church at 10:00 am on Tuesday, July 26th at 200 North 3rd Street in New Baden, IL. A private family burial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you consider making a donation, in Rita’s name, to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Foundation at “