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Rita Harvard remembered for her commitment to Naperville

RitHarvard 82 died Friday will be remembered for her numerous contributions City Naperville.

Rita Harvard, 82, died Friday and will be remembered for her numerous contributions to the City of Naperville.

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:28AM

Rita Harvard, a former North Central College trustee and volunteer for several Naperville groups, died Friday after battling lung disease. She was 82.

“She always had the feeling that she needed to help people and she was always doing significant things,” said Rita’s husband, John Harvard. “People always wanted to cooperate with her while working for good causes.”

John and Rita Harvard met at Naperville High School and graduated in 1947.

“After graduation, I went to University of Illinois and she went to Monmouth College so we only saw each other a couple of times,” he said. “We married different ways, and 31 years ago we found each other again. We got together and it has been a fantastic 31 years. I can’t put enough adjectives and accolades to our marriage because it’s beyond what people would understand. We really had a great relationship.”

Mrs. Harvard started her volunteer work after college by teaching Sunday School at Grace United Methodist church for 12 years.

She also served as the Sunday school superintendent and helped design the church building.

Later, she was a secretary and treasurer for her family business, Prince Castles/Cock Robin Companies, from 1972 to 1985, then at the Naperville Creamery Co. from 1985 to 2000.

During that time, she also volunteered at Edward Hospital as a member of the Institutional Review Board.

She received many awards, including the Gael Swing Award of Meritorious Service from North Central College for her involvement as a trustee for 28 years.

“Twenty-two years ago, when I was first interviewed for North Central’s presidency, Rita told me that this community needed an additional fine arts center to go along with Pfeiffer Hall and she thought it one of the things that should occur on my watch,” North Central College President Harold R. Wilde said in a statement.

“Year after year, I kept hearing her voice. . . . There’s no doubt that she helped inspire the effort that got us to this point,” he said. “She did that in so many ways on so many projects throughout the community and that’s really her legacy.”

Rick Spencer, North Central College vice president for institutional advancement, said: “She was just a rock . . . So reasonable, so smart . . . so aware of what people needed.”

Mrs. Harvard joined the Rotary Club of Naperville in 1985. Later, she was elected as the first female president and Rotarian of the Year.

Other survivors include daughters Susan Krosko and Jodie Anderson; a son, Tom Castagnoli; stepdaughters Kelly Pelland and Kerry Irwin, and a brother, Ted Fredenhagen.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Grace United Methodist Church, 300 E. Gartner Road, with visitation at 10 a.m.

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