Rita Ferraris

Obituary of Rita Ferraris

Please share a memory of Rita to include in a keepsake book for family and friends.

Rita Jerome Ferraris passed away on April 25, 2024, with her loving family close by her side. She had shared 96 years of unconditional love, infectious laughter, and unforgettable memories with family and friends.


Rita was born at home on November 8, 1927 in Jermyn, PA to the late Catherine and Mickial Jerome. Prior to Rita’s teen years, they moved to NJ and settled into Paterson. However, after the move she always held a special place in her heart for her family and friends from “up home”. Rita went on to graduate from East Side High School. She made sure to share with her kids just how much she loved High School, along with the tried-and-true friends she made there. Shortly after graduating, Rita went to work for the NJ Bell Telephone Company working with the switchboard. Little did Rita know that a young, handsome, and eligible Western Electric employee name Earl Mario Ferraris would wind up working on the back of Rita’s switchboard. Some flirting took place and before long the two lovebirds were married on September 1, 1951 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Paterson.


Rita and Earl moved to the Indian Lake section of Denville where they had six children. They made some wonderful friends there who they kept in touch with but their house was bursting at the seams! They had a new home built across town and that is where Mom had her seventh child. Together they created a magical world for themselves and their big family. They raised their family Catholic and were dedicated members of St. Mary’s Church where Rita was also active with choir. They also were members of a bowling league. Rita and Earl were married for 45 years when Earl passed away in 1996.


After Earl’s passing, Rita spent 10 years living in Town Square, where she thrived! She was always on the go – she was an original “mall walker” and could often be seen walking around town. She received the honor of being a “Living Treasure” at St. Francis Residential Community. She was always volunteering to help others with rides to and from the Doctor or to Shoprite and beyond. She was a social butterfly, meeting friends everywhere she went. She was the most doting and attentive Grandmother. Although we are deeply saddened by her passing, we take comfort in knowing she is now reunited in Heaven with her beloved husband, Earl, her parents, and her daughters, Patricia Ferraris O’Neill (2019) and Celia Ann Ferraris Dumke (2023).


Rita is survived by her treasured children, Michael (Kathy) Ferraris, Steven Ferraris, Clare (Barry) Kotteles, Mary Ann (Mark) Hand, and Faith (Charlie) Oberman; her most cherished son-in-laws, David O’Neill of PA and Charles Dumke of North Carolina. She leaves behind 15 grandchildren whom she loved seeing and spending time with. She was so proud to have 7 great-grandchildren. She also leaves her best friend, Pat Mulligan; her numerous loving cousins, great-nieces, great-nephews, her caring friends and neighbors at Fox Hills who were true Rita supporters!


Thank you to the Compassionate Care Hospice staff who has the most dedicated, dependable, warm, and kindhearted staff.


One thing Rita carried throughout her entire life was a love for dogs. Whether they were her own, her children's or a friend passing on the street, Rita cared for all canine companions. In her memory, charitable contributions are being collected for the 11th Hour Rescue so that many more pups can feel that same love and compassion. Donations can be made via inmemof.org.


Public Visitation will be held on Wednesday, May 1st, from 4 – 7 pm at Norman Dean Home for Services, 16 Righter Avenue, Denville. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, May 2nd, at 10 am at St. Mary’s Church, 15 Myers Avenue, Denville. Burial will follow at Denville Cemetery in Denville. Please leave a condolence, light a candle, or share your favorite memory of Rita here to continue to celebrate her life and let her light shine on. Her family will cherish them forever.


*If you were unable to attend Mass, you can watch it anytime from St. Mary's YouTube page, or by clicking here*