Rheta Mae Southard

September 2, 1926 ~ December 16, 2020 (age 94)


Rheta Mae Southard, 94, passed peacefully on December 16, 2020, at The Baptist Home in Rhinebeck, NY. Her daughters were by her side.


Rheta was born on September 2, 1926, in Fort Fairfield, Maine.  Her parents, the late Arnold L. and Pearl E. Robinson (Trask) were prosperous potato farmers with a wealth of interests and talents.  Rheta attended a one-room schoolhouse through the eighth grade.  She always joked she was the smartest kid in the eighth grade (she was the only kid in eighth grade).  Sometime after high school, she entered and won the coveted Miss Potato Blossom title.


She had an adventurous spirit, an unassuming nature, an unwavering devotion to those she loved, and she kept these qualities throughout her life until the end.  She traveled across the country at the age of 22, where she worked and lived for several years, in California, before returning to Maine, where she met and married Owen Southard in 1949.  Owen was a decorated Veteran of WWII, an educator, athlete, and a self-taught musician.


Her love of California persisted and, a few years after they were married, they moved back and started their family.


Rheta and Owen collected friends wherever they went.  In fact, if currency were based on friends and family, they would have been wealthy beyond belief.  They always maintained their relationships with both family and friends and their love for travel and adventure.


In 1964, they moved to Rhinebeck, NY and Owen took a teaching job in Hyde Park, NY. Some years later, she took a job at the Rhinebeck Savings Bank as the Secretary to the President, Donald Dapson.  She enjoyed her time at the bank until they retired and moved to Florida.


She returned to Rhinebeck a few years after Owen died and lived with her daughters for a few years before entering The Baptist Home in 2017.  She often remarked how loved she was at The Baptist Home by the myriad of caregivers there.  As her family, we cannot thank them enough for the generous care she received for her body, mind, and spirit.  We are forever indebted to them for this.


Rheta was predeceased by her husband, Owen, her sister, Henrietta (Leonard, Bonnie) Armstrong, and brother, Robert (Rose Marie) Robinson.   

She is survived by her daughter Marilyn Southard Miller of Woodstock, CT and her children Zachary Gold of Durham, ME and Aaron Miller of Bar Harbor, ME.; her daughter Nancy Southard, her husband Troy, and their children Aliza Melley Madden of Greenwich, CT, husband, Nick, and son, Owen, Steven Jonathan Melley of Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Jessica Nelson of Brooklyn, N.Y., and many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews across the country. Also surviving, her grand pets, Elliot, Lucy, and Ambrose, and friends too numerous to list.  She was loved by all of us and will be deeply missed.

There are no calling hours.

Services are private and at the convenience of the family.

Arrangements under the direction of the Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home, Rhinebeck, NY.

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