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Rita Pawlikowski Harvey

August 7, 1933 ~ February 20, 2024 (age 90) 90 Years Old

Rita Harvey Life Story

In Loving Memory of Rita Pawlikowsky Harvey

Rita Pawlikowsky Harvey, a beacon of creativity, passion, advocacy, and generosity, departed from this world on February 20 at the age of 90, surrounded by those who loved her. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1933 to the late Thomas Pawlikowsky and Wanda Tuholsky Pawlikowsky, Rita grew up in the Atlantic coastal town of Fairfield, CT and always loved the beach. She completed an undergraduate degree at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) in Pennsylvania, majoring in art and history. Rita then went to work for Best & Company in New York City, where she was the youngest women’s fashion advertiser on Fifth Avenue.

While in NYC Rita met William (Bill) Cushman Harvey, who was attending medical school at Cornell University. The couple married in 1963 and initially settled in Hartford, CT, where Bill started medical residency and was drafted into the Air Force as a flight surgeon. Rita gave birth to her two children, Leigh Anne and Eric, before Bill was relocated to Luke AFB in Phoenix, Arizona and then to Brooks AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Rita immensely enjoyed life as a military wife.

In 1974 Bill left the military and the family settled in Dallas, Texas. Here Rita embarked on a new chapter in her life, immersing herself in the vibrant culture of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Rita was a gifted artist, and her love for painting & drawing was manifested in every brush & pen stroke. She found solace and inspiration in the world of classical music, opera, musicals, and theater. Her passion for the arts was a testament to her vibrant spirit. Rita also enjoyed cooking & eating gourmet food, playing recreational tennis, traveling and seeing the world.

In the 1980s, when a family member was affected by serious mental illness, Rita began her journey as an advocate for individuals affected by mental illness. She began as a volunteer for the Dallas chapter of the grassroots organization NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), eventually leading support groups and teaching educational classes. Rita later served on the Boards of PLAN (Planned Living Assistance Network) of North Texas and ASH (Alliance for Supportive Housing). She was very “hands on” in improving the lives of residents of Iris Place, an adult independent living community for those with serious mental illness. Rita was always very generous in donating her time and other resources to this cause.  

After divorcing in 1998, Rita independently embarked on the final chapter of her life. She eventually gave up tennis & travel but continued to advocate for mental illness, enjoy cultural outings & good food with friends, and support music and the arts locally. Rita never tired of art museums, galleries, live musical & theater performances. She had a wonderful sense of humor and enjoyed a good laugh.  Rita was loved by many and will be sorely missed. She is survived by daughter Leigh Anne & husband Will, son Eric, older brother Bob and younger brother Andrew.

Rita is preceded in death by her parents, Thomas and Wanda, but her memory lives on in the hearts of those who were fortunate enough to know her. As we mourn her passing, let us celebrate a long life well-lived, dedicated to the pursuit of beauty and mental health advocacy. May Rita’s soul rest in eternal peace, and may her memory be a source of inspiration for us all.

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