Published February 14, 2020

MELROSE — Rita (Babcock) Bernhard, 87, of Melrose, passed away at her home surrounded by her family on February 6, 2020.

Rita was the beloved wife of the late Thomas Bernhard. Loving mother of Lisa Bernhard of Melrose, Rita Croteau and her husband Richard of South Yarmouth, Thomas Bernhard and his wife Robin of Melrose, Kevin Bernhard of Melrose, James Bernhard and his wife Ruth of Plainville, and Debra Norris and her husband Dana of Melrose. Cherished grandmother of Michael, Ashleigh, Nikkilee (Alex), Jeannine (Brandon), Noelle (Anthony), Gus, Jason, Taylor, Kelton, Alexander, and Sydney. Proud great-grandmother of Bryce, Ava, Mya, Tony, and the late Cali Caruso. Devoted sister of Barbara Drago and Domenic, Helen Hurd and Al Erickson, Loretta Prestia and Leonard, and the late John Babcock and Catherine and James Babcock and Urania. Caring sister-in-law of Ann and Roger Richard. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, and friends.  

Rita was raised in Everett and graduated in 1950 from Everett High School. She went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in teaching from Salem Teachers College in 1954. After graduation she taught elementary school in Athol and Everett. Once Rita and Tom moved to Melrose to raise their family, Rita became a substitute teacher, where she was known for always following the lesson plan and expecting her students’ full attention and participation. She later worked at the Melrose YMCA for many years, where she was known for her warm greetings and unflappable demeanor. Rita was happiest when her living room was filled with her family chatting, laughing, teasing, reminiscing, and debating—always with the respect for one another that she quietly and lovingly insisted upon.  

Visitation was held at the Gately Funeral Home, 79 W. Foster St., Melrose, on Monday, February 10. Funeral procession from Gately Funeral Home on Tuesday morning February 11, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at Incarnation Church, 425 Upham St., Melrose. Interment was Wyoming Cemetery in Melrose. Relatives and friends were respectfully invited to attend. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Rita’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To send a message of condolence please visit