Rita Cuny Nelson

Areas of Achievement: 
Community Building

Honored By

Honored by: Family and Friends from WOSAC and Resource Exchange
Date submitted: May 29, 2014
Gift: Engraved Paver, Large

Rita was born June 25, 1932, in Detroit Michigan to Edward and Genevieve Cuny. Her father was a second generation jeweler in Detroit where he owned JE Cuny Jewelers.

Rita worked in the family store while attending school. She graduated from high school in Detroit and then attended Hillsdale College for two years and went on to graduate from Eastern Michigan University with two degrees, one of which was in secretarial science. After graduation, she got a job working for the Chrysler Marine Division, where she met the love of her life, Larry Nelson. Rita and Larry opened an Advertising and Printing Company, LaRiva Enterprises. Larry owned a Buick dealership, Larry Nelson Buick in Royal Oak Michigan. She and Larry were married on July 25, 1970 and lived in Birmingham Michigan. They loved life together running their businesses, boating and entertaining in their lovely home in Birmingham Michigan. Larry passed away two years after they were married, leaving Rita with some wonderful memories of their life together.

After Larry's death, Rita worked for the YMCA of Detroit. She was a big supporter of the YMCA and loved her work there. In 1988 she moved to Tucson to be closer to her sister-in-law Phyllis Cuny and niece Karen Bradley. She worked at the University of Arizona in the Technology Transfer Department until 1997 when she retired. Rita became very involved with the University and met many great friends while working there. In later years she owned Jafra and Zri distributionships.

After retirement, Rita continued her involvement in the community through her connections at the University. She was a member of WOSAC (Women and Gender Studies Advisory Council) and Resource Exchange. She held many offices for both WOSAC (she was even a board member at 81 years old!) and Resource Exchange and also participated in many projects. Rita was particularly good at bringing people together and she diligently worked to help others by promoting the rights of women and others who needed help. She was a wonderful listener and used her own life experiences to help people find themselves.

Rita loved life and lived it to the fullest, teaching many of us lessons on how to have a positive attitude and be happy with yourself. Rita loved her family, plants, animals, good food, reading, playing cards, movies, her balcony garden and most of all, having fun. She had a great fondness for cats and her cat Prince was always her most special companion. With her chic fashion sense she was always dressed and accessorized elegantly. She loved her home at the historic Catalina Foothills Apartments and always made friends with her neighbors because she was a delightful person to know and be around.

We love you Rita, you have left us with many fond memories!

Resource Exchange was conceived in September, 1980, after a group of Tucson businesswomen attended an American Business Women's Conference on Networking at the University of Arizona. These women envisioned a powerful network of professional women exchanging their resources in a variety of areas. Members can benefit personally and professionally through the exchange of experience, contacts and services. In 1986, a closer look at the group discovered that women not only needed the network of resources, but support from each other, both personally and professionally.

The Women's Studies Advisory Council (WOSAC) is a member-based community organization that promotes and supports the students, faculty and activities of the University of Arizona Gender and Women's Studies Department.