Rita Jo Sprekelmeyer Lamb was born on the anniversary of the founding of Ardmore on July 28, 1927, in Ardmore, to Lawrence Adolph and Myrtle Robin Faison Sprekelmeyer and passed from this life 12 weeks shy of her 90th birthday on May 6, 2017, at Lakeland Manor in Ardmore.
Rita was a member of the Ardmore High School class of 1945 (Best Damn Class Ever!) until her senior year when she was stricken with suppurative arthritis and confined to a body cast. She returned to high school the following year and graduated with the Ardmore High School class of 1946. She remained very close to members of both classes and attended class reunions for both until as recently as three years ago.
Rita worked for her father at Sprekelmeyer Printing Company for one day where she was supposed to “hold copy” to ensure that what was printed matched what was ordered. She said she was fired on her first day because she was looking out the window instead of paying attention to the task at hand. Her father Lawrence reportedly relieved her of her duties and told her that she would be better off at home helping her mother wash dishes. Rita explained that she thought she would get to help feed the printing presses and that holding copy was just too boring! She later went to work for The Jones Oil Company and worked there for three years followed by OG&E where she worked until her marriage.
She married Kenneth Coy Lamb in Ardmore on Jan. 15, 1954, and that union produced two children, Larry Lee and Laura Jane. Rita said one of the greatest joys of her life (aside from seeing Frank Sinatra twice!) was raising her children and she had many stories of funny things they said and did when they were small children.
Rita and Kenneth had a wonderful marriage. On their honeymoon, a woman approached Rita and said, “I know why you married him!” Rita said, “Because I love him?” The woman replied, “No! Because he looks like Spencer Tracy!” Rita adored Kenneth and he adored her! Kenneth always referred to Rita as his bride.
Rita and Kenneth were active members of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church where Rita taught pre-school Sunday school with Mary Jane Noble for 14 years. She often said that because pre-schoolers will tell you just about anything, she and Mary Jane could have probably blackmailed the whole church! But they kept most of the children’s stories confidential. Rita was also Laura’s Bluebird and Campfire leader with Mary D. Miller and Brenda Potter and she had many funny stories from Campfire camp.
Rita was stricken with breast cancer in 1980 but fortunately caught it early, had a mastectomy, and never had a recurrence. As was her way, she put a positive spin on that experience by joining the Ardmore Chapter of the American Cancer Society and participating in numerous fundraisers for cancer research including the first Relay for Life in Ardmore. She also volunteered for the Reach to Recovery program through the American Cancer Society and called on patients who had mastectomies at Memorial Hospital to provide information, encouragement and hope. She called on patients ranging in age from 16 to 80 plus from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. She was a staunch advocate for early detection of breast cancer through monthly breast self-exams, which she credited with saving her life, annual clinical exams, and mammograms.
Rita often said that in the Sprekelmeyer family they had to number off to get to talk and even though she was the youngest of four girls she learned that skill well! She loved to tell a funny story and was known for her many funny sayings. She was also known for her many funny songs that she said she learned from her friend Frances Ponder. Having fun was a top priority for Rita. She was Frank Sinatra’s biggest fan and it was great fun watching her watch videos of him. She had a great sense of humor, she loved to laugh, and did so often! Rita was known for her ability to make the best of a bad situation. She overcame numerous serious health issues throughout her life and always kept a positive attitude. When she suffered a broken neck and ended up at Lakeland Manor nursing home in a halo she made the best of it by adopting her fellow residents and the staff as her family. She shared her many funny stories and sayings with them and some said they never knew what was going to come out of her mouth! Welcome to the family Lakeland!
Rita was loved and cherished by her family and many friends and was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, sister and friend. Her passing marks the end of that generation of Sprekelmeyers and
Ardmore has lost another huge source of Ardmore history.
Rita was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 60 years, Kenneth Coy Lamb; her parents, Lawrence Adolph and Myrtle Robin Faison Sprekelmeyer; her sisters, Maxine Sprekelmeyer Butler and husband, Harrell Butler, Francis Sprekelmeyer Cusimano Giambrone and husband, Leo Cusimano and later husband, Ernie Giambrone, and Jean Sprekelmeyer O’Heran and husband, Bill O’Heran; and niece, Mary Butler.
Rita is survived by her son, Larry Lamb and wife, Kim Spurlock Lamb (Dallas); daughter, Laura Jane Lamb Atchley and husband, David Atchley (Springer); grandchildren, Kristina Martinez Herring and husband, Zachary Herring (Terre Haute, Ind.), Jarrett Lamb (Arlington, Texas), Kara LaShay (Watauga, Texas), Angie Atchley Stull and husband, Kevin Stull (Lancaster, Ky.), Julie Atchley Robinson and husband, Tom Robinson (Bessemer, Ala.), and Mark Atchley and wife, Amy Atchley (St. Charles, Mo.); great-grandchildren, Marlee Marie, Lily Harper and Zoe Mae Herring (Terre Haute, Ind.), Diana Carol, Becca Joy and Jenna Hope Atchley (St. Charles, Mo), Daniel David Stull and wife, Rachel Stull (Lancaster, Ky.), Joshua Jordan Stull (Lake Wales, Fla.), Noah Andrew Stull (Lancaster, Ky.), and Grant Henry Robinson (Montgomery, Ala.); godsons, Brad Edward Clowe (Colleyville, Texas), and Todd Berryhill (Marietta, Ga.); sister-in-law, Donna Faye Lamb Crabb and her husband, Doug Crabb (Oklahoma City); niece and goddaughter, Kathleen O’Heran McKay Stark and husband, Reggie Stark (Calgary, Alberta Canada); nieces and nephews, Gavin Butler and wife, Gail Butler (Georgetown, Texas), Gordon Butler
and wife, Briann Butler (Houston), Lucy Butler (Kansas City, Mo.), Beth Cusimano Casselman and husband, Jerry Casselman (Eagle Rock, Mo.), Rita Cusimano Page and husband, Joe Page (Manchester, Mich.), Barbara O’Heran Graveland and husband, Bill Graveland (Okotoks, Alberta Canada), Patrick O’Heran (Calgary, Alberta Canada), Cindi Crabb Drummond and husband, Gary Drummond (Oklahoma City), Douglas Wayne Crabb Jr. and wife, LuAnn Crabb (Kearney, Mo.); grand-cat, Maggie Mae Atchley and precious baby grand-dog, Ginger Rose Atchley (Springer) who loved to take rides with her Granny in her wheel chair.
The family wishes to thank Drs. Brian Shockey, Joel Sabangan and Francis Oliver, Lakeland Manor, Cross Timbers Hospice, and sitters, Kim Wright, Denise Ellis Taulton and Ella Ward for their compassionate care of Rita. They also wish to thank Norma Forbes and Sally Forbes Noble of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church for their weekly visits to bring her communion.
For memorial contributions, the family has designated the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, 908 Rockford
Road # J, Ardmore, OK 73401; Ardmore Animal Care, 321 Carol Brown Blvd., Ardmore, OK 73401; St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Sunday School Program, 516 McLish Ave. SW, Ardmore, OK, or the charity of your choice.
Memorial service with reception to follow will be 10 a.m. Monday, May 15, 2017, at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church with Father Michael P. Stephenson officiating. Interment will follow at a later date at Hillcrest Memorial Park.
Visitation with the family will be from 2 – 4 p.m. this afternoon at Craddock Funeral Home.
Online condolences may be made at craddockfuneralhome.com.