Rita Brazma Picicci — bon vivant, feminist and wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher extraordinaire — passed away peacefully and suddenly on March 19th, 2022, at the age of 76, after a short battle with advanced cancer. Surrounded by her family and so much love, the one-of-a-kind, indomitable Rita, signed off on a life well-lived, on her terms, and with no regrets.
Rita is survived by her loving husband Frank Picicci, her daughters Dina Lemieux (Marc) and Karin Campbell (David), her sister Austra Ozolins (Andris), her nephew Marty Ozolins (Elizabeth), and niece Larisa Ozolins. She will forever be missed by her grandchildren, Karah and Landon Lemieux, and Lorelei and Charlotte Campbell. Rita also leaves behind a large circle of extended family and friends — too many to list for fear of missing even one, because every single one was important to her.
Born on July 26th, 1945, in Augsburg, Germany, not long after the end of WWII, Rita’s early life was as a refugee. Displaced from Latvia when Russia invaded in 1940, her parents fled, leaving everything behind. Eventually, they found their way to France and finally Canada, where life, for a time, continued to be marked by scarcity and uncertainty. This experience shaped who she was — Rita was an eternal optimist, a nurturer, eternally-kind and always loving, because she experienced such darkness, and chose to forever bring only light to everyone around her.
It was no surprise that Rita found teaching her calling. Highly-regarded by students and teachers in the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board, she inspired and enabled countless students to pursue lifelong learning, higher-education and careers. She told students and her own children and grandchildren, that they could be anything they set their minds to. It was common to be stopped at a grocery store or shopping mall, by former students, who would run up to her enthusiastically to thank her and proudly share their successes, that they credited to her teaching. Many colleagues remained her close friends after retirement.
Rita adored her daughters and grandchildren, and sacrificed so much to provide them with everything they needed to succeed and build an infinitely more comfortable life than she had. She had a knack for picking just the right gifts for her grandchildren, much to their delight. Celebrations were so special as a result of her thoughtful additions. Her family is her greatest legacy. They are forever grateful for her generosity and selflessness. Her daughters only wish they could have enjoyed one more al fresco rose with her and see her pure joy in being with them. There was never any doubt to her family about how much she loved them and the happiness they brought her.
Time spent with friends equally brought her joy. Rita was the greatest friend, and there is no one who could make life-lasting friends more quickly. Winters in Florida were a highlight in her retirement, where she enjoyed time with friends and her hobbies of shopping, shelling, chatting, entertaining and happy hour-ing. There is no doubt that friends’ and the family’s fondest memories are of times spent with her in the Sunshine State. How these times will be missed.
There is no way to get over this incredible loss, but there is comfort in knowing she has been reunited with family and friends she has not seen in a long time, and who she missed and thought of so much — especially her father and mother (Robert and Valentina Brazma). We know in this wonderful place, she is socializing, laughing, eating foie gras, brie and raising a glass of champagne to those she knows and the new friends she will undoubtedly continue to make.
Please hold Rita always in your mind and spirit. Remember her kindness of heart and love of life — she took no greater joy than in living and loving fully. Some people are so afraid to die, they never begin to live — not Rita. You are loved to infinity, Rita, mom, mam — and there will forever be a hole in the hearts of the many who had the privilege of knowing your light and love.
Rita’s wish was to be cremated. A celebration of her life will be held when it’s warm and sunny, as she would have wanted.
Cancer is a thief that robs so many. Rita and her family would love it if we could help conquer cancer in our lifetimes. Please consider donating to the Canadian Cancer: