Rita J. Bicknell

May 31, 1951 - April 24, 2020
Rita J. Bicknell thumbnail
Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory
Nancy and Tom Kelly
Byron & Janet Hill
Kelli O'Neil
Crystal Seitz
Chris and Cathy Ellis
Joetta Poland
Bob and Joetta Poland
Bill Laughlin
John McCarthy
Ed and Kay Rice
Tom/Nancy Redmond


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.  The family has suggested memorial contributions be made to the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund.  Check can be made to CFSEK – RJB Women’s Health Fund and mailed to

The Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas at 100 S. Broadway, Suite 100, Pittsburg, KS 66762 or donations can be made on-line at www.southeastkansas.org. Click the Donate Now button, select the Rita J. Bicknell Women’s Health Fund at the top of the drop down menu and pay by credit card or PayPal.

Farley Funeral Home in Venice, Florida is handling the arrangements. A message of condolence may be sent by visiting www.farleyfuneralhome.com.

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Timeline for Rita J. Bicknell

Born: May 31, 1951
Died: April 24, 2020

Condolences for Rita J. Bicknell

Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory

Our sincere condolences.

The staff of Farley Funeral Homes and Crematory.


Nancy and Tom Kelly posted on 6/8/20

Our dear friend Gene. Rita was so beautiful, loving and generous in both mind and spirit. Truly the best friend a person could have. Gene, we wish you peace, comfort and blessings. I am comforted to know that we see her again. She is missed more than words can express. Much love, Tom and Nancy


Byron & Janet Hill posted on 6/4/20

A beautiful candle in memory of a truly beautiful lady.


Horses of Hope Riding Center, Inc. posted on 5/29/20

Dear Gene, We at Horses of Hope Riding Center in Baxter Springs, KS were so sorry to hear of Rita's passing. The Foundation provided exceptional opportunities for women, and we were so blessed to be able to help women in our area through the RJB Women's Giving Circle. Rita was, and always will be, a true shining light in so many lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Kelli O'Neil posted on 5/13/20

Gene, I was so terribly saddened to hear of your wife's passing. I wish I could have met her. What a truly inspiring and amazing woman. My prayers go out to your family. Kelli O'Neil AMI Texarkana


Ronald Jezerinac posted on 5/12/20

Rita was one of a kind and I cannot think of anyone who possesses all of the amazing attributes that she did. She became our friend when my wife (who has also passed) met Rita at a neighborhood party on Manasota Key many years ago. They became fast friends and it was then that Gene and Rita took us in as family. We made so many fun memories together on the beach, at our empty lot parties, and enjoying the finest restaurants in Englewood (if that's possible). We loved her and she loved us. She was such a strong and devoted friend to my wife as she fought her own battle with cancer. Rita was President of the North Manasota Key Association and we've never had a better one. She knew how to bring people together, even the ones who were unwilling to participate. There wasn't a challenge she wasn't willing to tackle, and she always handled them with grace and sophistication. If we had a neighborhood problem, all you had to do was call Rita. There is not one person on the Key, in Englewood or Venice that did not admire her. Her kindness, tenacity, bright spirit and fierce love touched so many people. Rita was a beautiful person inside and out, nobody can deny that. We will all miss her so very much but are better people having known her.


Shannon Staub posted on 5/6/20

Gene, I am so sad about Rita’s passing. I remember when we first met over 20 years ago. She was always there for me when I needed guidance. She was always supportive and gave me much needed advice in County Commission and community matters. You both have been an inspiration to me as a couple dedicated to each other. You and your family are in my prayers. Love, Shannon


Crystal Seitz posted on 5/6/20

Gene, I am so sorry to learn about Rita's passing. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I know she is in the Lord's hands smiling down on you from above. Blessings, Crystal Seitz


Chris and Cathy Ellis posted on 5/4/20

In memory of Rita J. Bicknell, Chris and Cathy Ellis lit a candle


Chris Korth posted on 5/4/20

Dear Gene, We are so very sorry for your loss of Rita. May God comfort you. We send you our love & prayers, Chris Korth & kids


Todd & Sandy Casey posted on 4/30/20

Gene - So sorry to hear about Rita. She was an incredible lady and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Todd & Sandy Casey


Shirley Hugill posted on 4/30/20

Gene, my prayers are with you for peace and comfort. I’m so sorry for your loss.


Chris and Cathy Ellis posted on 4/30/20

Cathy and I were so sorry to hear of Rita's passing. She was a wonderful person admired by so many. God Bless Gene and their entire family during this moment of reflection. She will live on in the hearts and memories of all the people who met her and knew her well.


Evonne Picard posted on 4/30/20

So sad to learn of Rita’s passing. We enjoyed many wonderful golf days at Jacaranda. She was a champion of all she endeavored. I’m a better person for knowing her. Rest In Peace.


Connie and Bob Goodman posted on 4/29/20

So sorry for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May God comfort you and your family.


Jessica Stockton posted on 4/29/20

My heart breaks for you, Gene and family. I am so honored to have known Rita. She was quite a lady! My thoughts are with you all as you navigate this new chapter. XO


Raychel Enck and Sarah Montgomery posted on 4/29/20

We have fond memories of Aunt Rita. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Raychel, Sarah, and Jon


Mary Kay Hesen posted on 4/29/20

So very sorry to hear of Rita’s passing ! Sending prayers ! Mary Kay and Lisa (Daughters of Marg Hook )


Amy Pinkerton posted on 4/29/20

To me I will always call her Aunt Rita. She was not related but she was my Moms best friend. I remember her laugh to this day. My mom always said she and I were trouble makers because we were Gemini’s. I smile because she and my mother are friends United again. My heart goes out to her family and to the many women she supported. You touched us all Aunt Rita. You will be remembered and missed greatly. Love Always Amy Ashworth Pinkerton Sandy Ashworth’s Daughter


Joetta Poland posted on 4/28/20

Sending prayers and love to her family and friends. Bob and Joetta Poland


Bob and Joetta Poland posted on 4/28/20

What a beautiful person. Sending prayers and love to her family and friends.


Bill Laughlin posted on 4/28/20

In memory of Rita J. Bicknell, Bill Laughlin lit a candle


Bill Laughlin posted on 4/28/20

Gene and family, very sorry. Bill and Linda Laughlin


Rebecca Ann Atherton White posted on 4/28/20

I am so sorry to hear of this tremendous loss to family, friends, and community. My condolences to all. Rebecca Ann Atherton White Formerly of Pittsburg. Currently in Alabama. May move to Kentucky or even back to Pittsburg. My prayers are with you all. Rebecca Ann Atherton White. I am sure john in heaven is echoing these sentiments.


John McCarthy posted on 4/28/20

My sympathies go out to Rita's husband, family and her many friends. I was fortunate to be introduced to Rita by County Commissioner Shannon Staub - as Rita was working on various projects to benefit the residents of her beloved Manasota Key. Soon after we met, Rita introduced me to Charlene and Michael Dyer, her neighbors on the north end of the Key - sparking another long-term friendship. She was quite a connector! I am thankful for our time working together, her enduring support over the years, and our casual conversations along the sandy "north key" road. She is as much a part of the beach as the sand and the sea. Her spirit and smile will always be held fondly in my heart and in my memory.


Bob Gilmore posted on 4/28/20

Gene and kids, i was sorry to hear of Rita’s passing. I will keep all of you in my prayers. Rita was a special lady and I was proud to have known her. God bless all of you.


Carla Pratt posted on 4/28/20

To the family of Rita Bicknell: I write on behalf of the Washburn Law School family to express our deepest sympathy for your loss. Rita's Washburn family was very saddened to hear the news of her passing. We hope that you find comfort in the love of family, and in the memories of time you shared with Rita. With deepest sympathy, Carla Pratt Dean, Washburn University School of Law


Sherry Bever Goodvin posted on 4/28/20

My heart goes out to Gene and the entire family. What a gift she was to all of you, she left a legacy of love, kindness, and generosity!! She will be forever in your hearts, and the hearts of your children and grandchildren. Sending hugs.


Tom and Judy Spurgeon posted on 4/28/20

Our prayers are with you... Sincerely, Tom and Judy Spurgeon


Linda J Butts posted on 4/27/20

Gene- May God comfort you during this great loss. Rita was a lovely woman and brought so much light to the world. May knowing that she is with God, give you peace. Linda Butts


Clark McQuigg posted on 4/27/20

We share your sorrow. She was a great lady and made a lasting impression during her time in Miami. Blessings to Gene and the family. Clark & Janie McQuigg


Jack & Lois Lemon posted on 4/27/20

Dear Gene & family, so sorry for your loss. Rita was a very special lady. All who knew her, loved her! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Jack & Lois Lemon


Matt and Leah Wilbert posted on 4/27/20

So sorry for your loss. We are keeping you all in our prayers!


Matt and Leah Wilbert posted on 4/27/20

We are so sorry for your loss. We are keeping the Bicknell family in our prayers!


Matt and Leah Wilbert posted on 4/27/20

Please accept our condolences on the loss of Rita. We will keep the Bicknell family in our prayers!


James posted on 4/27/20

Rest in peace. Gene, I am so sorry for your loss.


Tim McNally posted on 4/27/20

Gene, I was very saddened to hear of Rita's death. I know you've lost a soul mate. I'm sure you can take comfort in knowing she is in a better place.


Shellie Blevens posted on 4/27/20

Gene, I am praying for you & your family. I have many wonderful memories of Rita & appreciated her so much. I was always honored when she would ask for assistance with her Kansas Home & holiday decorating. She always treated me well, & I enjoyed working for her. I will miss her dearly. I know she is with Jesus, & we will all meet again someday! Bless you all! Love Shellie Blevens from The Home Place downtown Pittsburg.


Kelly Duffin Pittsburg KS posted on 4/27/20

Gene & Family, Rita was such a lovely lady. Always a smile for everyone she met. Sorry to hear of her passing.


Scott Gallagher posted on 4/27/20

Sending you our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. Rita was an amazing woman that leaves a beautiful legacy. God bless, Scott, Leila, Gia and Joey Gallagher


Belinda (Harry) Brumfield posted on 4/27/20

Gene, may God bless you and your family with his peace at this time.


Ed and Kay Rice posted on 4/27/20

I shall miss my dear, sweet, honest, and beautiful friend, Rita. You taught me so much. You demonstrated such grace and are an inspiration to so many. I love you and rejoice you are in the arms of Jesus. I look forward to our reunion one day in Glory! Gene, we love you and lift you up in prayer for comfort and strength. You know we are always here for you.


Scott and Cheryl Saia posted on 4/27/20

My sincere condolences to the entire Bicknell family. Rita will always be fondly remembered.


Ben Woolery AKA DJ Steve Scott posted on 4/27/20

Gene, I am praying for comfort for you and your family. So sorry for your loss. May God bless you in your time of sorrow.


Peggy Hinde posted on 4/27/20

Please know you are in our thoughts. Ed & Peggy Hinde


Tom and Nancy posted on 4/26/20

In memory of Rita Bicknell, Tom/Nancy Redmond lit a candle We cannot believe Rita is gone. We adored her, she was a special lady. We send our deepest condolences and love. God Bless your family and you.


Tom/Nancy Redmond posted on 4/26/20

In memory of Rita Bicknell, Tom/Nancy Redmond lit a candle


Tom/Nancy Redmond posted on 4/26/20

Gene, Tom and I send our condolences and love to you. We adored Rita, she was an outstanding lady. God Bless your family and you. We are here for you if you ever need anything.


Phyllis Cheek posted on 4/25/20

Gene, I just heard that Rita passed away. I am so sorry to hear this and so wish I could do something for you. Rita was so lovely and accomplished so much in her life. You have always been there for my family. You are in my prayers.


John and Janet Patterson posted on 4/25/20

Gene-Just a brief note to let you know you are in our thoughts and prayers. We are so thankful for all the wonderful contributions Rita made to our community.