Rita Angela Chapin
Rita Angela Chapin
Rita Angela Chapin was born to Justo Zabala and Marie Marcuerquiaga Zabala August 22, 1932 in Winnemucca, NV.   

She was the second child in a family of six:  brothers -Louie (Dutch), John, Ray and sisters – Gloria and Sarah.

Rita had happy memories of her childhood and loved being with her brothers doing outside things rather than inside doing household duties.

She commented her mother had a suspicion that  Rita had been dropped off by the gypsies because she loved colorful jewelry and clothes.

Rita attended school in Winnemucca and graduated at the age of 16.  She promptly went to work at CB Brown and then later worked at different banks as a bank supervisor.  

In her later years she worked as cashier at Sundance Casino.  She joked one time that she had been fired from her first job at the movie theatre, but the owner knew he would miss her, and hired her back the next day.

Rita met Harold Chapin, who was her partner throughout the rest of her life.  

They were married on September 2, 1955 at her grandmother’s house in front of all of Rita’s family.

Harold and Rita were married 62 years and during that time they worked hard and always had a lot of fun.  

When they first married, Harold was cow boss at the 25 Ranch. 

Because the cowboy crew moved with the cattle, Rita cooked for them on site.  She proclaimed their tent as her first home and welcomed the challenge and adventure of that job. 

Harold and Rita worked several ranches in Northern Nevada and in the process made many life-long friends.  

Rita also loved finding treasures on the different ranches – arrowheads, old bottles, and even purple door knobs.  Harold always referred to what Rita collected as her ”junk” ; what Harold collected was “merchandise”.

Harold and Rita eventually purchased land in Paradise, which was undeveloped.  

Rita was up for the adventure of turning it in to their forever home.  Even when her Uncle Hank drove out to see it and gave her a slight shake of his head as dust blew around them, she knew it was going to be a special spot.  

Rita worked full time at the bank, but always had time to stop after work and check on her mom and anyone else who needed checking on before heading home. 

Harold stayed home and kept improving the farm and surrounding area, often doing day work to supplement their income.  The spot  became a welcoming home, a productive farm, and also home of some beautiful horses.  

Rita was so proud of what she and Harold had built from the ground up.  

Rita’s home was a special spot because she had the biggest heart ever.  She had a contagious smile and never knew a stranger. 

She especially loved kids, and they loved her back.  Because she was hard working, she had this clever way of figuring out how to get things done and convincing you, child or adult, that it was fun! 

Everything was an adventure with Rita and no one could resist her enthusiasm.  Rita always helped people who she thought needed it, but would not ask, in subtle ways so they wouldn’t know. 

She had an amazing assortment of Avon on her bathroom counter; a small portion she even used.  This was all because she loved the Avon lady, who Rita thought worked really hard.

Rita was an amazing cook, and not only did Harold get his pancakes, made in her cast iron skillet, every morning, she would feed anyone who stopped. 

She would visit while she cooked and before you knew it, she had a meal prepared.  

She would throw the best dinner parties with friends and family in the back yard.  So much food, so much laughter, and so much love.  

Rita was so generous with her love and her time.  She had a calendar with people’s birthdays on it, and when it was your birthday you could count on receiving a card or a call singing you Happy Birthday.  She said , “You can forget any holiday, but don’t forget my birthday.”

Rita retired from the Sundance when she was 70, but she simply worked harder taking care of people.  

She helped take care of her mom, who lived to be over 100 years old.  

She had a beautiful yard and still kept the refrigerator full of more than Harold could ever eat. Rita was a breast cancer survivor, and faced that battle as she did life full force forward, and God blessed her with remission.

Rita finally was able to spend more time at home with Harold, and was his nurse and support system throughout his battle with cancer.

Rita was always proud of being 100% Basque; she could say this with all certainty because of “those new tests” they have. She was also proud of being a Catholic Christian. 

She loved attending mass and when she no longer could, she watched it on television.

Rita was a treasure and an angel; everyone’s life was better with her in it. She will be deeply missed and forever remembered. 

She is preceded in death by her parents Justo and Marie Zabala, husband Harold, brothers Dutch, John and Ray Zabala; sisters Gloria (George) and Sarah (Roger) Ghrist; and Gary Westmoreland. 

She is survived by Bonnie Zabala, Dawn Westmoreland, Larry (Janelle) Westmoreland, Alan (Debbie) Westmoreland, Rick (Rene ) Maestrejuan, Tobin Maestrejuan, Frank (Stella) Maestrejuan, Rebecca (Laurie) Hazard, Felipe (Karen) Ghrist, Glynis (Jay) Wright. 

Rita has left  great nieces and nephews, some great-great nephews and nieces and many close friends whom she considered family still warmed by her light.

Per Rita’s wishes, there will be no service, but family would appreciate your prayers.  

If you desire to contribute to a favorite charity in her name, Rita would be delighted with that.