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Maria “Rita” Tiemens Michael passed away on Monday, May 11, 2020 in Houston after a courageous two-year battle with a very rare cancer. Rita was born on March 29, 1956 in Jakarta, Indonesia to her Dutch parents Maria (Riet) and Teunis (Theo) Tiemens. Theo was posted in Jakarta by KLM and later the family moved to the USA where Rita happily became a US citizen.
Rita loved life and lived it to the fullest. She was high school valedictorian in Howell, NJ and then graduated from the University of Michigan before securing her international MBA at Thunderbird in Glendale, AZ, now a part of Arizona State. It was there in 1977 she met her future husband, Guy Michael. They were married in 1980 and celebrated their 40th anniversary full of so many happy memories on March 1.
Rita started her career working in publishing in New York before marrying Guy and moving to London where he was posted by Exxon. They began their international travels in Europe and Africa including regular visits to Rita’s relatives in Holland. After their son’s (Jefferson) birth in London, they returned to the States with a company move to Houston where they put down their roots. Their daughter, Christina, was born a couple of years later. Rita later taught French and Enrichment classes at the Village School where their children went to school. When their children were off to college, they took advantage of the opportunity to move to Melbourne, Australia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia during Guy’s expat assignments.
She showed a true love for her family, friends and students. She was dedicated to their support and success. Her pride in her children and grandchildren made her sparkle. Regular and celebratory gatherings were frequent as she created themed dinners with family and friends. She often kept up with her former students. Her hobbies also included reading and sports. Rita was an active member of two local book clubs and an avid sports fan with a passion for her Wolverines, the Yankees and Astros.
Rita loved to travel and she arranged trips and side trips for the family in near and far locations. From camping in Big Bend, to whale watching in Alaska, snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, visits to China and cruising the Yangtze, visiting Vietnam, Bali, Argentina, Antarctica, the Galapagos, cruising the Mediterranean and sailing in the Caribbean. Rita and Guy visited some 70 countries in these adventuresome quests.
Rita’s kind personality, sparkling blue eyes, magnetic smile and joy of life will be sorely missed. She was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband, Guy Michael, son Jefferson Michael and his wife Ashley, daughter Christina Maria Heller and her husband Ben; grandchildren Stella Marie Michael, Maxwell and Elijah Heller; brother Robert Tiemens and sister Joyce Tiemens.
The family will be holding a small service during this time of the pandemic and a celebration of life will be held at a later date. You are encouraged to share a memory or send condolences and share your contact information to www.bradshawcarter.com.
In lieu of the customary remembrances, contributions in memory of Rita may be directed to: The Smile Train, smiletrain.org ; Doctors Without Borders, doctorswithoutborders.org ; The Houston Food Bank, houstonfoodbank.org ; The American Cancer Society, cancer.org ; or a charity of your choice.
Doctors Without Borders, USA
P.O. Box 5030, Hagerstown MD 21741
American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City OK 73123
Charity of One's Choice
The Smile Train
633 Third Avenue, New York NY 10017
The Houston Food Bank
535 Portwall Street, Houston TX 77029