Rita Joan Miller Sicard
November 6, 1931 - June 28, 2020
Her birth certificate reads “Born Alive at 12:25, Baby Girl Miller.” Rita Miller entered this world on 11/6/31 in Salina, Kansas and if anyone was born alive it was she. Rita shared her lively escapades with a wide circle of cohorts: those she birthed and those she befriended. Rita’s early life in Kansas was punctuated by twisters, dust storms and flash floods. One flood was so violent it deposited an alligator into her basement where it lived with the family for years and made wash day particularly exciting. Rita’s father, Raymond, took her to every new movie at the local picture show, sometimes staying for two or three showings. Her mother, Rose, patrolled the streets during the wartime blackouts with Rita by her side to make sure all windows were dark and curfew kept, as all of her brothers were serving overseas.
Rita’s journey to Eureka began when she boarded a train at age18 in Salina and came to live with her aunt Pauline Alley. While at her first job in Eureka as an usherette at the State Theatre, she caught the eye of a black-haired Frenchman cruising past in his yellow convertible. The cruising lead to conversation and conversation lead to marriage. Robert Sicard and Rita Miller were married in October of 1950. They together raised six children. They separated after 25 years, but Bob moved two houses away from Rita and they remained in each other’s lives until Bob’s death in 1985 with Rita by his side. When Rita’s youngest child started school, she took classes at CR, learned to drive, studied real estate, became an agent then a broker when she started Humboldt Bay Real Estate Company in 1975. Her office on First Street in Eureka quickly became the hangout for a group of business people who were working towards revitalizing Old Town. Friday Happy Hour often began at the Alley Cat or OTBG, then progressed to Rita’s office for low-stakes poker and high-stakes hilarity.
Rita’s career in real estate brought out her uncanny ability to find diamond in the rough properties and turn them into gems. The most prominent of many developments was her purchase of the old Coggleshall Launch property at the foot of F Street in Eureka. Rita worked with architects, builders, Eureka city staff, soils clean up, and engineers to design what is now Bayfront One.
In 1982 she purchased an old laundromat building in Cutten and transformed it into The Cutten Inn restaurant. She hired aspiring artists, Duane Flatmo to design signage and menu, and fabric artist, Laura Hussey, to make a hamburger costume complete with pickles. She supported many young artists in their starving days with commissions, food and encouragement. During her career in real estate, Rita helped many families get into their dream homes and built friendships that lasted a lifetime.
Rita and Bob raised six individualistic children with Bob often scratching his head and Rita encouraging each one to find their personal strengths. She managed to share a unique friendship with each of them as well as with their spouses and children. Rita had a particular devotion to her youngest son, Andy, who was severely injured in an automobile accident in his early 20’s. Rita moved to San Jose to be with Andy during his long rehabilitation.
Holidays were always celebrated at Rita’s Eureka home. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grands, new boyfriends, old husbands, neighbors, friends of family gathered at her table to eat, drink and be merry. Everyone was welcome and were honored to enjoy her delicious cooking and hospitality. She enjoyed entertaining, traveling, dancing and her Giants baseball team.
Rita’s journey ended on her terms, in her own home, in her own sweet time, with family by her side. During her last days she enjoyed personal bedside music concerts by her granddaughter (Leah) and other family friends.
She is survived by her daughters: Teresa Porter (John), Jeanine Sicard-Ross (Pat Blair), Suzanne Sicard, Monique Sicard-Johnston (Chris), and son, Andy Sicard. She also leaves beloved niece, Kathryn McCarty (Dennis) and family, nieces and nephews in the midwest and New England, and members of the Alley and Burghart clans. She leaves her much loved and grateful grandchildren, Tyler and Samuel Henderson, Annalia Porter, Drew Ross, Luke Sicard, Adam and Leah Johnston, and great grands, Chloe White Henderson and Sophie Henderson.
Rita was preceded in death by her beloved sister, Rose Yost, and their brothers Fritz, Ray, Joe and Jim Miller. Her mother Rose Burghart Miller and father Raymond Miller, special aunts and uncles and cousins, and her son-in-law, Bill Ross. Her heart broke irreparably when she lost her eldest son, Robert Sicard, Jr. She mourned losing her great companions Robert Sicard, Sr., and long-time companion, Shiras Jarvis, MD.
Rita and family sincerely thank Redwood Coast Pace and Visiting Angels who helped her remain in her home until her passing. In lieu of flowers, Rita would be pleased if you sent a donation in her name to Hospice of Humboldt, CASA, Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, or a charity of your choice. A celebration of life will be held in the safe future when we can all gather together and toast to Rita.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Rita Sicard’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.