It is with great sorrow we announce that we lost a sister and friend, Rita Jo (Rueckheim) Hammond. Rita, 62, of Sparta, Wis., passed away Saturday, March 23, 2024, at Mayo Health in Sparta, Wis.

She was born Nov. 21, 1961, to Leonard “Sonny” and Marcia (Hole) Rueckheim. She was the second oldest of 13 children. Rita graduated from Brookwood High School in 1979.

Rita grew up on the family dairy farm outside of Ontario. She was a hard worker and loved the outdoor life. After high school, she obtained a milk weigher and sampler license and spent a couple of years hauling milk with her dad.

After her dad passed away in 1983, Rita moved to Sparta and began working at Northern Engraving, where she made many new friends.

One of Rita’s proud accomplishments was getting her certified nursing assistant license (CNA). She started working at Lakeview Nursing Home in West Salem and worked there until 2012. Rita treasured the work, and she made many more new friends. She loved helping others and was so good at it that she began training new CNAs. Rita saw a lot of the people she trained further their education and proudly followed some of their lives through social media.

Through a friend, she met James Hammond. They married in 2002 and lived their lives around Sparta. Rita and Jim enjoyed life together for ten years.

After retirement in 2012, Rita cared for some of her coworkers’ children and others in the area. She became attached to two little girls, Mavis and Ellie Mae, whom she thought of as grandchildren.

Rita loved to travel with a very dear friend. They took many bus tours across the country. She also took a trip to Hawaii with family.

Rita is survived by her 11 siblings, Roy (Dana) Rueckheim of Ontario, Peggy (Naasson) Brown of Ontario, Linda (Bob) Rae of Wilton, Mike (Erica) Rueckheim of Ontario, Amy (Dave) Gruber of Ontario, Barb (Kenneth) Witt of Kendall, Tom (Erin) Rueckheim of Wilton, Matt (Laura) Rueckheim of Hillsboro, Jacob Rueckheim of Wausau, Chad (Keri) Rueckheim of Cashton, and Sarah (Trevor) McDonnell of Maiden Rock; 15 nephews and eight nieces; along with many other relatives and dear friends.

Rita was preceded in death by her parents, Leonard “Sonny” in 1983 and Marcia in 2021; her husband, James, in 2011; her sister, Rebecca, in 1984; a niece, Rebekah, in 1994; and both sets of grandparents.

A Celebration of Rita’s Life will be Friday, April 5, beginning at 4 p.m. and concluding at 7 p.m. with a prayer service at the Torkelson Funeral Home, 720 Madison St., Ontario, Wis. A private family burial will be held at a later date in South Ridge Cemetery.

The Torkelson Funeral Home of Ontario is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be offered at