Remembering Rita Elegant, teacher, artist, devoted mother

Rita Elegant
Berkeley’s Rita Elegant, who worked as a kindergarten teacher for 33 years in Albany, died on June 24, 2019. Photo: Courtesy family

Rita Elegant, Jan. 28, 1949 – June 24, 2019

Rita Elegant was born in 1949 to Albert and Pauline Elegant. After a short illness, she passed away on June 24, 2019 in Berkeley, California with her daughter Alissa at her side.

A graduate of SUNY Binghamton, Rita received her teaching credential from UC Berkeley. She went on to serve as a kindergarten teacher for 33 years in Albany, California at both Vista and Ocean View elementary schools. She shared her love of world art with her students through many creative projects, including the creation of tile murals at both schools.

Rita was also a talented textile artist and exceptionally proud of her Certificate of Textile Art from Pacific Basin School of Textile Arts in Berkeley. She created weavings, knitted nets, works on paper and many beautiful quilts for family and friends. With friends from Pacific Basin she formed a “print group” for support in continuing their art work after graduation, which met regularly for over 30 years.

Rita moved to Berkeley in 1970 to protest the Vietnam War. She married and had a daughter, who she raised as an independent and devoted single mother. She joined with friends to sponsor refugees from South East Asia. She was passionate about genealogy and continually made connections around the world in her travels. She was an active member of her book group for over 20 years, always delighting its members with her depth of understanding of literature.

Rita is survived by her daughter, Alissa, and her sisters Saralee and Sheila. She leaves behind her nieces and nephews, Matthew and Rachel, Jonathan and Allison. She will be lovingly remembered by her many students, colleagues and friends.

A celebration of Rita’s life is being planned at Ocean View Elementary School (1000 Jackson St., Albany) on Sunday July 28 from 1-3 p.m. In lieu of flowers please help us preserve Rita’s artistic legacy by donating to Ocean View Elementary Mural Preservation (Albany Unified School District, 819 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94710).