Rita Grace (Schwan) Boyce, an East Rockaway resident for nearly 25 years, died of cholangiocarcinoma — bile duct cancer — on November 4. She was 67.
Born Rita Schwan in Rockaway, Queens, Boyce was the daughter of Rita G. Basile and Paul F. Schwan. She worked in Manhattan as a reservation clerk at a Sheraton Hotel, and married Bill Boyce on Sept. 6, 1966 in Rockaway Beach. They moved to Far Rockaway in 1976 and eventually to East Rockaway’s Bay Park area in 1988.
For the last dozen years, Boyce drove a school bus for Independent Coach. Prior to that she worked at a laundromat on Main Street in East Rockaway for several years. For 20 years, She also helped her husband, Bill, who delivered newspapers for the Daily News and Newsday, by keeping the books, answering the phone, and keeping track of customers’ changes in deliveries.
Boyce was a stay-at-home mother to her children whey they attended school, and she did volunteer work at their elementary school. She enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, and liked attending their Boy Scout and sporting events, and dance recitals. She loved to collect Christmas ornaments, and enjoyed crocheting scarves and the occasional blanket for friends and family. She loved going to dinner and events with friends and family.
“She was funny and fun-loving,” said her daughter, Donna Kanter, the oldest of her three children, and her only daughter. “She was a warm, generous, and selfless person who would do anything for her family. People who just met her tended to like her a lot; people who knew her well loved her a lot.”
Kanter said that whenever her mother or a family member or friend would travel, they would pick up a Christmas ornament as a memento. “She had them from all over the country,” said Kanter, “some even went back a few generations. Every year when we’d decorate the Christmas tree, Mom would go through the boxes of ornaments to pick out the more memorable ones, and we’d reminisce about the people who gave them to her, the trips we’d been on, the occasions we’d celebrated.” Sadly, Kanter added, all of the family ornaments were destroyed in the hurricane, although Boyce didn’t know that before her death.
Besides her husband, Bill and daughter, Boyce is survived by Donna’s husband, Frank Kanter; her two sons Bill, Jr. (Jackie) and Tommy (Kristi), and three grandchildren: Billy III, Brianna and Brian.