Rita E. Hesler

Rita E. Hesler

Rita E. Hesler

GUILDERLAND — Rita E. Hesler “was a proud, dignified person — very intelligent, very supportive of her boys,” said Mark Hesler, the eldest of her three sons.

She died peacefully on Sunday morning, Feb. 10, 2019, at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, surrounded by her three sons. She was 93.

Rita Padula was on a collision course with happiness in the late 1940s when she literally ran into Thomas Helser at a roller-skating rink. He was back from fighting in the Philippines during World War II.

The couple wed in 1950 and were married for 67 years, their union ending only with his death. They started their married life in a rented apartment in his native Schenectady until they could save money to buy a house.

In 1953, they bought a house on Birchwood Drive in western Guilderland and lived there happily the rest of their lives. It was there that the couple raised three sons — Mark, Jeffrey, and Thomas.

“She was very proud of us,” said Mr. Hesler. “She called us ‘my three boys.’ We were in sports in high school and college, and she would go to all our games … They’d go out on a limb to help us, whatever we needed.”

“My dad always had a huge garden,” said their son. “The summer before he died, he had 84 tomato plants.” Mrs. Hesler did her part for the family economy, putting up the vegetables to cook for her family.

Mr. Hesler died on Feb. 14, 2018. “Mom died just four days shy of Dad’s passing on Valentine’s Day the year before,” said their son.

She was born in Albany, the daughter of the late Dominic and Elizabeth (née Rosch) Padula. Her father, a World War I veteran, was in the mortuary business and her mother worked as a seamstress.  An only child, Mrs. Helser loved reading books.

“She was a voracious reader all her life,’ said her son. “We have hundreds of books.” Mrs. Hesler favored romances and historical novels, he said.

“She did a crossword puzzle every morning at breakfast,” said her son and, even in her 90s, she got most of the words.

“She had a clear mind. She played bridge at 93,” Mr. Hesler said. In one of the bridge parties this past year, his mother ended up the winner, he said.

“She lived independently,” Mr. Hesler said of his mother, noting that she was in the hospital just a few days before she died and had never needed assistance.

“She loved her yard and flowers and watching the birds,” said Mr. Hesler.

While Mark Hesler served as president of the Guilderland Historical Society, his mother would attend every meeting, he said. She was also proud to be a docent for many years at the Albany Institute of History and Art.

After graduating from Albany High School, Mrs. Hesler started working in banking in downtown Albany. She finished her career as a secretary in the district offices for the Guilderland Central Schools. She worked in the district offices for over 15 years, many of them for Superintendent Alton U. Farnsworth. She greatly enjoyed her work, her son said.

Mrs. Hesler was a member of St. Madeleine Sophie Church in Guilderland. “Mom and Dad always went to Sunday Mass,” said their son.

In their later years, Rita and Tom Hesler enjoyed many cruises together. And every year, to celebrate their wedding anniversary, they took a trip to Cape Cod. “They loved the Cape — being in the ocean, lying on the beach,” said Mr. Hesler. “My brothers and I, with our families, would rent places nearby.”

“We were always her three boys,” said Mr. Hesler. “She was protective of us as we grew up in life … We were never a wealthy family, but we had a great upbringing. We were happy and supported.”

He concluded, “She had a great run. Same with my dad. They lived in the home they loved right to the end … We’ll miss her.”


Rita E. Hesler is survived by her sons, Mark T. Hesler and his wife, Gretchen, of Franconia, New Hampshire, Jeffrey M. Hesler and Phyllis Quimby of Rotterdam, and Thomas B. Hesler of Guilderland; by her grandchildren, Madeleine Hesler, Katherine Hesler, Samantha Hesler, Matthew Hesler, Thomas Hesler, and Eryn Hesler; and by many nieces and nephews.

Her husband, Thomas Hesler, died on Feb, 14, 2018.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 9:15 a.m. at Bond Funeral Home at Broadway and Guilderland Avenue in Schenectady followed, at 10 a.m. at St. Madeleine Sophie Church at 3500 Carman Road, in Guilderland, when a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated. Friends and relatives may call on Wednesday evening, Feb. 20, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the funeral home.

Entombment will be in Most Holy Redeemer Mausoleum. 

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Madeleine Sophie Church, 3500 Carman Road, Schenectady, NY 12303.

— Melissa Hale-Spencer

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