John P. Rita,
brother of Father Thomas L. Rita

EAST FREETOWN, Mass. — Capt. John P. Rita, 77, passed away March 15, at the home where he and his beloved wife of 54 years, Theresa (Rego) Rita, had lived for more than four decades of their married life together. He is also survived by his brother, Father Thomas Rita of Fall River; his daughter, Beth Macomber of Assonet; his son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Jackie Rita of Denver; and seven grandchildren: John, Anna and Bob Macomber, and Katie, Maddie, Jojo and Evie Rita.

 A New Bedford native, he was the second of four sons born to the late Louis L. and Veronica (Earley) Rita. He was the brother of the late Jim and Larry Rita.

Rita was a graduate of New Bedford High School and Southeastern Massachusetts Technological Institute. He served in the Navy as a Radioman First Class (RM1) aboard the USS Lyman K. Swenson (DD-729) and the USS Jarvis (DD-799).

As a civilian, Rita later returned to the sea, where he captained and owned four scallopers out of his hometown port: the Theresa R. II, the Theresa, the Odyssey, and the Matthew J. From 1989 to 1994, he was president of the New Bedford Seafood Co-operative Association.

After his retirement from the commercial fishing business, Rita enjoyed reading, following the markets and world affairs, and dispensing his unique brand of wisdom from his shoreside observation post (usually with jazz music playing in the background).

Like many area residents, he relished the recent successes of New England’s sports teams. But Rita’s greatest sources of joy were always found within his family. The accomplishments of his grandchildren (in their studies), his children (in their professions), and his brother (in his ministry) never ceased to make him proud.

All of those experiences were shared with Rita’s devoted wife, Terry, who was his most constant companion and caregiver. Even as their pace slowed and the shadows lengthened during their sunset years, he continued to enjoy life’s simple pleasures with her.

A Funeral Mass was celebrated March 19 St. John Neumann Church, East Freetown. Burial followed at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Arrangements were in the care of South Coast Chapel. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Rita’s honor may be made to the National Lymphedema Network, at

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