In loving memory of

Rita Michaelson
January 13, 2022

Rita Michaelson, 92, passed away peacefully on January 13 surrounded by family. Rita grew up in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, daughter of Hyman and Gertrude Caslowitz. As a child, Rita was afflicted with polio, which led her father to involve her in several sports to rebuild her muscles. Among these was skiing, which she enjoyed well into her 60's with her husband Julius ("Mike"), her sons Mark and Jeffrey and with many friends.

Rita met Mike while Rita was a student at Brown University and they were married shortly after her graduation. The drive to their honeymoon in Florida, through the Jim Crow South, was a shock and ignited a passion against discrimination and in support of civil rights. From the very start, her marriage to Mike was of two individuals working for social justice and civil rights -- Rita and Mike were a woke couple decades before the term even existed, and their accomplishments in pursuing social justice, opposing discrimination and helping those in need were many.

Rita was involved in many community groups, including Lippitt Hill Tutorial (forerunner to the current Inspiring Minds) and the Women's Intergroup Committee. Her commitment to civil rights led to her appointment as a Commissioner on the R.I. Human Rights Commission. Other volunteer work included participation and appointments on many committees and boards for religious, civil rights, women's rights, diversity and other causes and seven years as a docent and lay lecturer at the RISD museum. A proud graduate of Brown University, Rita worked in the Admissions Office for many years and later served as a Trustee and Trustee Emeritus, serving the University on many committees, with her greatest interest and emphasis on increasing diversity and opportunity in the student body. Rita also served as an arbitrator for the Rhode Island Supreme Court, on the Labor Panel of the American Arbitration Association and on a number of other arbitration panels, leaving her mark in a number of landmark Awards and sharing her experiences as a lecturer on the subject of labor relations. Rita was a skilled mediator and was a co-founder of the Providence Community Mediation Center. She won numerous awards including for her work in support of the causes of equal opportunity and positive intergroup relations.

Aside from her work in service to her community, Rita had many friends, from every social stratum. Rita enjoyed entertaining in her Lorraine Avenue home and enjoyed traveling with family and friends. Rita and Mike raised two sons: Mark, who inherited Rita's artistic sense and talent, a graphic designer who served as art director at numerous national publications; and Jeffrey, who followed in Mike's footsteps as an attorney. One of Rita's greatest pleasures in her later years was having both her sons living in Rhode Island. Rita spent her final days at Tockwotton, after Mike's passing, where she made many new friends and joined or was joined by many old friends. Rita loved and was loved by her immediate and extended family.
She is survived by Mark and Jeffrey, daughter-in-law Karen, grandchildren Kristen and Graham, sister Susan Green and brother-in-law Ron, sister-in-law Joyce Richard, sister-in-law Barbara d'Oliveira, many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. She was predeceased by Julius, her husband of 61 years, and brothers Arthur and Joel.

Burial will be private. A memorial service will be planned at a future date. Funeral arrangements will be under the direction of the Holt Funeral Home, 510 So. Main St., Woonsocket, RI. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your preferred charity or engage in an act of kindness.

Tributes

Arlene Violet wrote on Jan 17, 2022:

"Like her husband Rita was a positive force for good! She will be missed by the entire community. Deepest sympathies to the family Former Attorney General Arlene Violet "

John O’Leary wrote on Jan 15, 2022:

"Mark and Jeffery, Please accept my condolences on the passing of your dear mother. I am so sorry for the loss. Your mother has left a wonderful legacy and you in her community service. Her memory is a blessing. May God give you consolation at this sad time."

susan wrote on Jan 15, 2022:

"Love and wishing you all peace and condolences. Rita was a faithful and brilliant member of my Tockwotton book club, and a good friend to my mom and me throughout the years. Loved her stories about her trips to NY with her dad - he left her at the NYPublic Library while he did business - and her insights into literature. Also, she was super fun and a great spirit. Susan and Selma"

Andrea wrote on Jan 15, 2022:

"To Mark, Jeffrey, Susan and all those who loved her, I am so sorry for your loss. May she rest in peace. Andrea Caslowitz"

Fraser Lang wrote on Jan 15, 2022:

"Rita was a delightful person as well as someone with rare compassion for those in need. When I knew her as a Brown volunteer she was instrumental in the establishment of the John Hope Award to honor those who volunteer for public service. Rita made a real difference with her life."

Scott Wolf wrote on Jan 14, 2022:

"I was so privileged to know and love Rita Michaelson. She and her husband of blessed memory Julie were wonderful friends, advisers and boosters. Her warmth, exuberance, intellect and wholehearted embrace of the diversity of humanity and magic of daily life were infectious and inspiring. She will always live on in my heart and mind as a source of positive energy and beautiful memories. To Jeff, Mark and the rest of Rita?s family , please know that my wife Joyce and I are with you spiritually, and emotionally at this time of your profound loss, and are always available to lend a sympathetic ear . We are eternally grateful to have had the gift of Rita?s friendship . Please know that she will always be a source of warmth and inspiration for us. May you find comfort in the many lives she touched and shaped and in the fact that she will continue to do so. Best Always, Scott Wolf "