Rita Nichols. 96, died April 16, 2020, in Bozeman. She was born April 21, 1923 in Slinger, Wis., to Francis (Frank) and Frances Kachelmeier. She was the second youngest of 10 siblings.
Music was her life. At a young age, she traveled by train from her home in Slinger, where her family operated a bakery shop, to Milwaukee to take voice and music lessons. She graduated with of bachelor of arts in music from Milwaukee State Teachers College.
She ventured out West in the early 1950s to teach music at the St. Labre Indian School in Ashland. While teaching in eastern Montana, she met Louis Robert Nichols. They wed in 1952 in Billings, where they eventually settled.
She continued her passion for music in Billings, directing choir, singing and playing organ and piano for more than 50 years at the Little Flower Catholic Church. Her talents were not lost on her children, who all learned to play some musical instrument and sing.
She belonged to the Billings bowling leagues, golfed into her 90s and took daily walks along the Yellowstone River near her home. She loved playing cards, reading, watercolor painting and carrying on her family tradition of fantastic baking. She sang with a Billings hospice group, sharing her beautiful soprano voice.
Her backyard Fourth of July celebrations were a tradition the extended family looked forward to every year.
She remained in her home in Billings until 2019, when she moved to an assisted living facility in Bozeman.
She is survived by six children, James Nichols of Santa Clarita, Calif., Clare Marley of Sandpoint, Idaho, Theresa Schuster of Bozeman, Robert Nichols of Billings, Ray Nichols of Phoenix, Ariz., and John Nichols of Escondido, Calif.; and nine grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Louis; daughter, Louise; siblings, Julia, Marie, Joey, Sister Anne; Sister Limana, Sister Jo Marie, Vera, Al and Laddie.
Burial will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Billings. A celebration of life is planned for later.