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Rita Cheryl (Stanaland) Holder, 1950–2024

Thursday, April 11, 2024
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RitaCheryl(Stanaland) Holder, age 73, of Andrews, Texas, died peacefully at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, on April 5, 2024, surrounded by her loving family. A celebration of her life will be held at the First Baptist Church in Jayton, Texas on April 10, 2024, under the direction of Weathersbee-Ray Funeral Home, Rotan, Texas. A visitation with the family will be from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the church with a celebration meal for everyone that can attend at the Community Center until service time.

Rita was born on November 18, 1950 to Wayne and Grace Stanaland. The middle child of five, she grew up in Jayton, Texas. She often talked about her favorite memories from childhood, which always included her many cousins and her siblings. She especially enjoyed Christmases spent with her Arlington cousins. She had thre brothers, Billy, Bobby and Tommy, and when she was 9 years old, her favorite sister, LaDonna, was born and she had an instant best friend for life. She graduated from Jayton High School in 1969 and received an associate’s degree from South Plains College in Levelland before becoming a lifelong loyal Texas Tech Red Raider, getting her degree in history and political science. Rita began her teaching career in Smyer, Texas, in 1973, and she retired from teaching in 2013 from Andrews High School. Rita’s teaching career spanned over 40 years, and she taught every subject and every grade except kindergarten. Her favorite classes to teach were government, history and 5th grade gifted and talented. She taught thousands of students in many Texas districts, but her favorite students were her own children.

She met and married the love of her life, Garry Holder, on May 24, 1980. Together, they raised five children who were the light of Rita’s life and her greatest joy. Rita and Garry loved going to Red Raider football and basketball games and as the children grew, they travelled far and wide across Texas, supporting each child in their various activities, which included showing livestock, football games, basketball, cross country, track, softball, UIL debate, speaking events, one act play and band. The level of success was never the important thing to Rita, but that the experience helped to build character. Rita was a prayer warrior and her faith in Jesus Christ gave her strength and courage throughout her life. She raised her children to know that faith in Jesus is more important than anything else they may do in life.

Rita treated every person with respect, love and kindness. She never met a stranger and was the ultimate cheerleader for the underdog, believing wholeheartedly that every person possessed Godgiven abilities. She had a special way of discovering and bringing out the best in everyone.

Rita went to be with Jesus at 4:53 p.m. on April 5, 2024, surrounded by all of her children and her beloved husband. With prayers, songs of worship and tears, we encouraged our precious mom to let go and go meet her Savior. She was most excited to see her dear mom, her daddy, and her grandson, Holder Ferguson. While she fought with extreme courage and determination so that she could continue to be the matriarch and rock for her family, God knew that her complete healing could only be accomplished by leaving her broken body and entering heaven.

Rita suffered a hemorrhagic stroke on December 4, 2023, and she was stabilized at Permian Regional Medical Center in Andrews before being flown to UT Southwestern in Dallas, where skilled surgeons performed life-saving brain surgery that extended her life by four months, giving us many special moments to love on our precious mom and say all the things that needed to be said. We are so very proud of what our mom was able to accomplish in these challenging four months. She never once complained or questioned her circumstances. We are so thankful for the therapists at TrustPoint Rehabilitation Center in Lubbock, the nurses and therapists at Carillon and the doctors, nurses and therapists at University Medical Center who treated our mom and our family with love, empathy and respect.

We will miss our mom and wife every day of our lives, but we know that the love, faith and guidance she poured into us and everyone she met will allow her spirit to live on in every act of kindness and love we share with others. And she would want us to tell you, “Trust in Jesus and don’t wait. Tomorrow is not promised. It is the only lasting hope and confidence that you can leave for your loved ones”. We are so comforted to know that she is resting in the arms of Jesus.

Rita was preceded in death by her parents, Wayne and Grace Stanaland; her brother, Billy; and her grandson, Holder Ferguson. She is survived by her husband, Garry; and her beloved children, Stephanie Allen (Cody), Lindsay Ferguson (Ryan), Haley Thompson (Josh), Garrett Holder (Brandi) and Averie Holder (Maddie). She is also survived by her brothers Bobby (Bert) and Tommy (Lenora) and her sister, LaDonna Nix (Dewain). She was the best Mammy to 10 treasured, beautiful, smart grandchildren: Graden, Garrison, Finlee, Eloise, Rylan, Clara, Bowen, Takkett, Jaydon and Billie Mae.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the UT Southwestern Medical Center Department of Neurological Surgery, P. O. Box 910888, Dallas, TX 75391-0888.