Rita Ellen Gerzanick, 90, a life-long resident of Forestville, passed away at her home on Saturday, April 29, 2017. She was the loving wife of the late John J. Gerzanick. Rita was born on August 3, 1926, the daughter of Richard and Mary (Teevan) Large.
Rita attended The Patterson school and graduated from Bristol High School in in 1944 as salutatorian of her class. She received her A.B. in English from the Connecticut College for Women, her M.A. in English from the University of Connecticut and her 6th year in administration and supervision from Central Connecticut State University. Rita played a leadership role in her professional, community, and church activities.
Rita began teaching in 1948 at Lyman High School in Wallingford Connecticut. One year later she began at the Bristol High School and then Bristol Central High School where she served for many years as English Department Chair. She retired in 1997 after 43 years as a city wide 9-12 English Department Chair at Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern High School. She served as president of the Connecticut Heads of English Departments (CHED) for five years, the president the Delta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honor society for women educators. She was a member of the visiting committee of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to evaluate high schools and a member of the visiting committee of the Connecticut State Board of Education to evaluate teacher training institutions. She was a cooperating teacher and mentor for the BEST program (Beginning Educator Support and Training Program) and a member of the CAEP assessment in English. She was also a member of the state committee to design the reading and writing test for prospective teachers. Rita was a Trainer of Scorers for State Mastery Tests, Scorers for tenth grade Connecticut Academic Performance Test and new Teachers for the State Department of Education. She was a life member of National Education Association and the Connecticut Education Association.
Following her retirement, Rita immersed herself in community service. She was President of the Bristol Women’s College Club, and a member of the City of Bristol Library Board where she spent 3 years as chair. Additionally she was a member, President and on the Board of Directors as well as a trustee of the Bristol Girls’ Club. Rita also was on the Board of Directors for the Uniter Way. She was the founder of the Women and Girls’ Fund of Main Street Foundation, serving as Director Emeritus of the Board of Directors. She was also a member of the Graustein Memorial Transition to Kindergarten Institute and the Connecticut Literacy Initiative. Rita was appointed by former mayor Frank Nicastro to the School Readiness Council and was chair of the Program Quality Committee. Following this she served as an educational consultant for Bristol Pre School and Child Care Center. She was also an active member of the Bristol Association of Retired Teachers (BART). Additionally she was a member of the Tunxis Community College Advisory and Foundation Board. Rita was on the Board of Directors for Eagle Bank and the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. She was a corporator of the Bristol Hospital, the Wheeler Clinic and Central Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates.
During her distinguished career Rita was the recipient of several awards. In 1985 she received the Teacher of the Year Award from the State Board of Education. In 1994 and 1995 she received the staff achievement award from the Bristol Board of Education. In 1995 she received the Humanitarian Award from the Bristol Boys and Girls Club Association. Also in 1995, Rita received a City of Bristol Proclamation on June 8th from Mayor Nicastro honoring her and conveying his sincere gratitude and appreciation for dedicated, selfless and compassionate efforts on behalf of the Cities youth.. In 1996, she was honored with the Bristol PLUS (Positive Leadership, Unselfish Service) Award from the Bristol Family Center for her dedication to community service. In 2000, she was awarded a Certificate of National Service by Americorps. In 2001, she was the recipient of Recognition from the Bristol Preschool Child Care Center. In 2001 and 2002 she received additional awards from Americorps. In 2001 she was awarded the Director’s Award of Annual Recognition and in 2002 received a certificate of Appreciation for the Connecticut Literacy Initiative Volunteer Program. Finally in 2008 she received two awards form the Hartford Area Child Care Collaborative for Creative Curriculum for Preschool Literacy and Interest Areas. In April of that year she also received recognition for Theory of Multiple Intelligences from the Bristol School Readiness Grant Manager Mary Alice Petrucelli. In honor of Rita’s service and dedication to the field of teaching an annual award The Rita Gerzanick Legacy Award is given to a student who understands the importance of community involvement, leadership and service at the significant level of its name sake.
Rita was a very devote Catholic who was very active in St. Matthews Church. She was chair of the Parish Council for 2 terms (6 years) and a member of St. Matthews School Board serving as secretary. She was a lector for several years and an honorary Chair of the Development Drive.
Rita is survived by her daughter Mary Anne and son-in-law Larry Liebowitz the two loves of her life in Flagstaff, AZ. She leaves several cousins Barbara Richardson and Stephen Nypert of Bristol and Eleanor Nypert of Terryville, Francis Monckton of Florida, and 2 sisters-in-law Hellen Gerzanich of Forestville and Mary MacIsaac of Forestville.
Rita’s funeral will be held on Thursday, May 4, 2017at 9:00 a.m. from O’Brien Funeral Home, 24 Lincoln Ave., Forestville/Bristol and will proceed to St. Matthew Church, 120 Church St., Forestville for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. Committal services and interment will follow in St. Joseph Cemetery, Bristol. Calling hours will be held on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at O’Brien Funeral Home from 5:00p.m. to 8:00p.m.
Those wishing to honor her legacy may make contributions to the Bristol Boys & Girls Club, 255 West St. Bristol, CT 06010.