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Wisconsin Humane Society
4500 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53208
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Life Story / Obituary


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Rita Arauco, age 92, passed away peacefully in hospice on December 1, 2020 due to COVID. She was born December 19, 1927 in Cerro de Pasco, Peru to Juvenal Rivera and Teresa Trelles.

Rita dreamed of all things American as a little girl living 14,000 feet above sea level. As an early teen, she and her family moved to Miraflores, Peru along the Pacific Ocean. An avid reader of American magazines like Good Housekeeping, she watched Batman regularly with her younger sisters and cranked Mario Lanza records so loudly, her mother regularly scolded her to “turn it down!”. As the eldest, she made the brave decision to come to the US alone, find a job and send money back to support her family. In 1976, she became a US citizen and worked as a calibrator at Marsh Bellofram (factory) in Chicago until she retired in 1988. In 1991, she moved to Milwaukee and lived happily ever after in her local community, and, as an active member of her happy place, Immanuel Presbyterian Church at 1100 North Astor Street.

Rita was a fiercely independent, very creative and resourceful woman who followed her own muse. She was a prolific artist from her earliest youth and a dedicated and very protective Mother to the very end. While she lived on a very restricted budget her whole life, she made regular donations to various food pantries, children’s causes, Audubon and the Wisconsin Humane Society. She believed that, while adults can help themselves, infants/ children and animals are small and vulnerable and need advocates they can depend on. She happily knitted caps, cardigans, gloves and booties for preemie babies for 15 years for Columbia St. Mary Ascension Volunteer Services. She found knitting very soothing and it warmed her heart to know she was helping a mother of a preemie baby, like herself.

Rita’s proudest accomplishments are her two children who she raised on her own through much adversity. She instilled and applied values of humility, integrity, and resilience. Through good times and hard knocks, she always pointed out beauty and whimsy in the most uncommon places of her life’s journey.

Rita is survived by her 2 children Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Oscar (Cathy) Arauco and Teresa Arauco and her 3 grandchildren, Nathan (Alysia), Natalie and Jonathan. She is also survived by her younger sisters, Mercedes and Norma and her many nephews and nieces, all of whom live in Peru. She was preceded in death by her father, her most cherished and most beloved mother, the matriarch of the family, Teresa, her most adored baby sister who is still sorely missed, Dora, and her little schnauzer-companion of 15 years, Smokey the Wonderdog.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wisconsin Humane Society https://www.wihumane.org/