Remembering Rita Bicknell


Today we are remembering community member Rita Bicknell, the impact she had on the Four State Area, her accomplishments, and the legacy she left behind.

Rita Bicknell

Rita J. Bicknell, 68 of Englewood FL, formerly of Pittsburg KS, died April 24th 2020 at her home in North Manasota Key FL.

She was born May 31st 1951, the eldest of four daughters of Dean and Beverly Tucker. She resided most of her life in Kansas before retiring to Florida in 2003. Rita received her undergraduate degree from Washburn  University and MBA from Pittsburg State University. She later received her law degree from Washburn University School of Law in Topeka KS. While residing in Kansas, she was a former manager for Kansas Gas Service, a utility company in KS. She also served as Field Administrator for Senator Bob Dole and worked on numerous political campaigns. She then practiced law with the Phalen and Bicknell Law Firm and was admitted to practice at the US Supreme Court, until retiring in 2003.  She was on the board of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and a number of committees for state projects. She restarted the Community Foundation in Pittsburg KS.

She was instrumental in the beginning of the Women’s Giving Circle in KS, which raises money for charities and community needs. The Circle took a project to raise money and add to the School of Nursing at Pittsburg State and help the need for more nursing students to be admitted to cover the shortage of nurses state-wide. Other volunteers accepted the challenge of promoting the project and President Scott and the Pitt State Foundation and loyal supporters of the University gave the funds to do the addition for more nursing students. She was one of the first female Rotary Club members, when women were accepted. She was active and a trustee of the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg.  In Florida, she was on the board and executive committee of the YMCA that had locations in four towns and that included the Sky Academy School System. She served as President Emeritus of North Manasota Key Association and was on the Coastal Beach Committee. She was active in New Hope Baptist Church and Chairperson for various charitable fundraisers. She supported and helped Women’s organizations such as Solve and Pregnancy Solutions, she counseled with young single women, giving to causes that helped those in need.   She loved golf and was Club Champion at Mission Valley Country Club.  Later she played at Jacaranda Country Club and when in Pittsburg was a member of Crestwood Country Club.  Rita was active in the Gene Bicknell Celebrity and Charity Golf Tournament that raised money for the hospital and Pitt State scholarships.

She leaves 18 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren from her marriage to Gene Bicknell of 33 years. Together they loved Pitt State sports and being involved with activities supporting the University.

Rita is survived by her husband Gene of the home, her father, Dean and step-mother, Elizabeth Tucker of Carbondale, KS. Her sisters Anne (Marc) Fisher, Julie (Dan) Hejtmanek, Rebecca (Donnie) Allison. Step-children, Gena (Rick) Gallagher, Mitch (Vicki) Bicknell, Mike (Angela) Bicknell, Marty (Cheryl) Bicknell.

She was preceded in death by her mother Beverly Tucker in 2001 and step-daughter Diana “Diney” Bicknell DeRuy in 2008.

Nana Rita was the rock of the family in organizing family occasions. Her grandchildren and family gave her heartfelt motivation to take care of everybody. She was a ‘fixer’ and tried to solve any problem or concern in the family. Her nieces and nephews and their families were included in her nature to help everyone. She was a people person and would offer assistance to anyone in need. She took into her life women who were on the wrong track and helped them find their way back to self confidence and self-support. She was the lifeblood of the community in Florida, and left her mark throughout Kansas and in particular, on Pittsburg. Farley Funeral Home in Venice, Florida is handling the arrangements.

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