Rita M. (Backes) Decker

Rita M. (Backes) Decker

Rita M. (Backes) Decker, age 90, of Dubuque, passed away at 3:52 a.m., on Friday, January 22, 2021, at home surrounded by her loving family. To celebrate Rita’s life, private family services were held at Behr Funeral Home, 1491 Main Street. The service will be available for viewing on the Behr Funeral Home Facebook page Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Entombment will be in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Mausoleum.

Rita was born on December 5, 1930, in Dubuque, Iowa, daughter of Leo and Mathilda (Pfohl) Backes.

Rita graduated from Visitation Academy and went on to L.P.N. Nursing school. After finishing her training, Rita went to work as a nurse supervisor with Bethany Home for 11 years. She also did in-home health care for several families. Rita was never one to sit still. She was a talented seamstress and made several beautiful embroidery pieces for her family and friends. Rita enjoyed planting a big garden and would can her harvest to use in the kitchen throughout the year. Much to her family’s delight Rita was an excellent chef and baker. She was well known for her meticulous housekeeping and her love of reading and playing cards. Rita enjoyed traveling, and cruises to the Carribean quickly became her vacation of choice. Rita was a very social person, and also had a great love of animals, especially her cats and little Pekingese dogs. She was a member of St. Joseph the Worker Church and the Dominic Club for several years. Her family was the most important aspect of Rita’s life. She was always very interested in what everyone was up to and would check in with them daily. Rita was truly one of a kind, and will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.

Those left to cherish Rita’s memory include

her children,
Leonard (Libby) Decker, Dubuque, IA,
Janaan (Glenn) Anderson, Holland, MI,
Wayne (Penny) Decker, Waterloo, IA,
Nancy (Larry) Thompson, Portland, OR,
Judy (Bob) Ward, Marion, IA,
Debbie Kirby, Rifle, CO,
Barb (Jeremy) Kass, Bellevue, IA,
Tina (David) Ries, Monticello, IA
and Roger (Celia Bullington) Decker, Yuma, AZ;

her 12 grandchildren;

her 15 great-grandchildren;

and her brothers,
Raymond (Elaine) Backes, Dubuque, IA
and Lee (Nancy Gollmer) Backes Jr., Milwaukee, WI.

Rita was preceded in death by her parents; a granddaughter, Karla Dolphin; a son-in-law, Donnie Kirby; and a sister-in-law, Mary Backes.

Rita’s family would like to thank Dr. Cao, the nurses and staff of Hospice of Dubuque, and all of the staff members of The Rose, for all of their kind, compassionate and loving care of Rita and her family.

The family will thankfully receive your support through phone calls, greeting cards and memorials in Rita’s memory which may be mailed to Behr Funeral Home, 1491 Main Street, Dubuque, Iowa 52001, Attn. Rita Decker Family.

In Memory of Mom:

Rita be proud of what you did here on Earth!

Nine beautiful people you grew, nourished and loved!

You make me proud to call you Mom!

Nancy Decker-Thompson

If Roses Grow In Heaven

If roses grow in Heaven Lord

Please pick a bunch for me.

Place them in my Mother’s arms

and tell her that I love and miss her

and when she turns to smile,

Place a kiss upon her cheek,

and hold her for a while.

Because remembering her is easy,

I do it every day.

But there is an ache within my heart

that will never go away.


View local florists here.

16 condolences for Rita M. (Backes) Decker
  1. Deb Kirby says:

    My mom was an example of strength and how to persevere through hard times. She loved her animals and besides taking care of her family she took on the task of caring for the animals. She always had time to do her evening prayers for her family and would remind you she is praying for you and your family. She made me beautiful clothes she was a great seamster! I will miss her smile and laugh she would give!! I will miss how her face that would light up when she was around babies and animals.
    Mom I love you and you are forever in my heart!! I know i have another angel there to watch over me!!!

  2. Donna Bauerly says:

    Dr. Len (my Loras colleague) and all–Len I recall meeting you many times on Loras campus, and you were never without a big smile and a friendly greeting.

    If time were normal, I would have been at your Mom’s wake and funeral, probably greeting you with tears this time.

    But you would also smile remembering the well-lived and loved life of your dear mom Rita. You caught her smile when you first appeared in this world.

    Blessings on you and all you love, beginning with those brothers and sisters who yet surround you with her love and care still in their arms too.

  3. John Waldmeir says:

    Len, though I never had a chance to meet your mom, I heard you speak about her. It sounds like she lived a full life, and passing with family nearby means so much. I hope you’re doing alright, and maybe when we come out the other side of these strange days we’ll have a chance to sit down and chat. I miss seeing you, and my very best to all of your family. John

  4. Mary Lynn Neuhaus says:

    Len, Libby, Ryan and the entire Decker-Backes Family,

    How fortunate you were to have your mother and grandmother in your lives so long, and that her life was so full. You must have many of your mother’s traits, Len, a smile and a kind word for everyone. I wish that we were there to offer our condolences in person at the wake. I miss you.

    My mother, Mary Dugan Neuhaus, was a classmate of Rita’s at the Academy of the Visitation ‘48 and shared her career as a nurse. “Dugie” as your mother called her, is at Bethany now and asked that we send condolences on her behalf to your family on the passing of such a warm, caring woman.

    Jim joins me in sending our sympathy.


  5. Colleen & Jim Kuhl says:

    Dear Len & Libby — my heartfelt sympathies at this time of loss. Your Mom sounds like a pretty amazing woman, Len–and you seem to have several of her qualities from what others have said about her! Please know that you and your family are in our prayers as you grieve her loss and celebrate her amazing life. I miss seeing you at and near Loras.
    Peace & prayers+
    Colleen & Jim Kuhl

  6. Laurie and Dave Hinshaw says:

    Lenny,Libby,Ryan and family and all of Rita’s beautiful smart children. We send you our sympathy and love as you mourn your loss.
    I remember Rita as being a great cook and baker. And an amazing sewer. I have a set of her embroidered christmas cloths,every stitch perfect. Rita was always happy, inquisitive and fun to be around. No matter how many times I try, I can’t make fried chicken the way she did. Rest in peace Rita. You will remain in so many hearts. Laurie Hinshaw, Libby’s oldest sister

  7. Judy Kruser says:

    Our deepest sympathies go out to all of you and your families. Your mom was a beautiful and kind and selfless person. May God watch over all of you and help you cherish the wonderful memories you have of her.

    With fond memories,

  8. Carol Coohey says:

    To ALL of the Decker Families, I remember your Mother from years ago growing up at our farm. Prayers and thoughts to all of you guys. What a beautiful smile.

  9. Sisters of the Visitation, Dubuque, IA says:

    The Sisters of the Visitation and the Academy of the Visitation Alumnae Association offer our sympathy and prayers to Rita’s family. We will remember Rita and all of you in our prayers. Blessings.

  10. Edward and Gerry Maslowsky says:

    Our condolences to you and your family on the passing of your mother. She was a remarkable woman with many accomplishments who lived a long and happy life.

  11. Chris O'Connell says:

    Len and Family:

    My sympathy for all of you at this time.

  12. George & Julie Casey says:

    Dear Len, Libby, Ryan and all the family,
    We were so sorry to hear of the death of your beloved mom and grandma. We are thinking of you and praying for you during this time of grief.
    We’re sending hugs and love,
    George & Julie Casey and family

  13. Sr. Marie Gemar says:

    To all of you I extend my sympathy and prayers. Knowing your Mom lived a full and long life can be comforting, but I know you will also miss her. I especially want to say Hi to Leonard (I remember you from class in Cascade, and Wayne and family in Waterloo. Blessings of peace as you remember your Mom. Prayers always

  14. Doris Felderman says:

    Just a message for the family of Rita Decker. I was her Mary Kay lady for many years. She was such a pleasant person and so kind hearted. Always smiling and always had a nice thing to say. She will be greatly missed thank you.

  15. Linda (Russow) O'Toole says:

    My dear cousins, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Aunt Rita was a wonderful lady and someone we always speak fondly of. I remember her taking care of us while we visited you all on the farm… us city kids who had not a clue. And it was always fun when we happened to stop in while she was visiting with mom!

    I hope that your fond memories will eventually replace some of your grief.

    Love Linda

  16. Amy Beringer Bergfeld says:

    Tina and Family! So sorry to hear about the passing of your Mother! I remember how kind she was when I stayed over night on the farm! She was such a classy lady! Prayers to the Decker family!

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