Rita Coleen Shaheen



Memorial Contributions

Clark Retirement Home Franklin 

1551 Franklin St. SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Emmanuel Hospice

401 Hall St. Ste. 263

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Rita Coleen Shaheen of Grand Rapids, Michigan, passed away at age 69 on Saturday, May 4, 2024, amongst family, friends, Emmanuel Hospice and all the caregivers at Clark Retirement on Franklin. Rita was preceded in death by her father, LaVerne; mother, DeLoris; brothers, Mike, Ron, and Jerry; and sister Laurie who died at birth. She is survived by her husband, Dan, of forty-seven years; their three children, Michael (Emily) Shaheen, San Diego, California, Kelly (Elise) Shaheen, Grand Rapids, and Kaley (Eric) Burgler, Grand Rapids; one granddaughter, Sage Shaheen, Grand Rapids; two sisters, Jeanie (Garland) Marso, Valley Springs, South Dakota, Patty (Bob) Stapleton, Omaha, Nebraska; and one brother, Kelly (Barb) Flynn, Fremont, Nebraska.

Rita was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on November 13, 1954, to LaVerne and Deloris Flynn. Rita grew up in the small town of Parker, South Dakota with six other siblings. Rita and Dan met while attending The University of South Dakota in the early 70’s. Rita studied Education, and Dan studied Business. They married on June 5, 1976, at St. Christina’s Catholic Church in Parker, South Dakota.

If ever there was a saint born into this world, Rita Shaheen would be the one! Her entire life was devoted to helping others. Whether it was family, friends, strangers, or her precious students, she was the first to help them succeed and put a smile on their face. Rita’s smile and laugh were both intoxicating and so sincere. She so loved her family and cherished the time with them. Rita’s teaching career spanned over thirty years with the majority as a special education teacher at Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids. She greatly enjoyed helping students succeed, regardless of their ability, always bringing out the best in each and every one. The energy and love she gave to her students made her an exceptional teacher missed by all at her retirement in 2017.

After being diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2019, she continued to be a shining star to all! She never complained and was always cheerful, smiling, and, of course, full of love. She continued to enjoy life in her own way. Communication became more difficult over time, but Rita, Dan, and family understood each other nevertheless, Rita was “the rock” of our family. She was the one who developed our kids into the young professionals and compassionate individuals that they are today, sharing her values and sense of compassion. Rita will be missed by many family members, friends, students, caregivers, and coworkers, but mostly by her husband and children. Let’s celebrate the time we all had together with her and never forget all those beautiful moments, beautiful eyes, beautiful smile, and amazing laugh.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Clark Retirement Home Franklin memory care unit and/or Emmanuel Hospice. A special thanks is given to the staff for their kindness compassion, and exceptional care of our beloved Rita. We will always carry your memory in our hearts.

Visitation will take place Wednesday, May 8, 2024, 4-7pm at O’Brien-Eggebeen-Gerst Funeral Home, 3980 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Mass of Christian Burial will be held 11:00 am Thursday, May 9, 2024, at St. Robert of Newminster Church, 6477 Ada Dr SE, Ada, MI 49301 with visitation one-hour prior. Rev. Logan Weber presiding.

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