Rita Zoe Clarkson, 63, of Jefferson City and Osage Beach, died unexpectedly March 24 at SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital surrounded by her family. With her passing, she was able to give life to others through organ and tissue donation.
She is survived by her husband of 43 years Randy Craig Clarkson, and her sons Craig Alexander Clarkson and wife Annie of Chicago, and Jeffrey Robert Clarkson and wife Hannah of Leawood, Kansas. Rita loved her family deeply, joyfully and above all else.
Born Rita Zoe Alexander on April 7, 1954, to Elwood Clyde Alexander and Maxine Zelma Alexander, she grew up on the family farm outside Linneus, Missouri. As a teenager, Rita was a pageant queen and baton twirler. She played the saxophone and graduated from Meadville High School in 1972.
Rita caught her husband Randy’s eye while she “cruised Main” in a blue Buick Electra with a white hard top in his hometown of Brookfield, Missouri. They married on Sept. 28, 1974. In the early years of their marriage, they lived several places before settling in the Jefferson City area.
Quick to smile and laugh, Rita was the life of the party, particularly if there was live music and dancing. She loved blue water and warm weather, whether beachside in the Caribbean or “coving out” on her beloved boat with Randy and friends at the Lake of the Ozarks. Sewing, decorating, shopping, cooking and cheering for the Mizzou Tigers were a few of her favorite activities. In 2017, she was able to see both of her sons marry — and danced the night away on both occasions.
For more than 30 years, Rita worked as a legislative assistant at the Missouri State Capitol where she was known for her warmth, professionalism and commitment to helping constituents. Rita retired in 2017, but returned part-time in the office of Rep. Nate Walker until recently. Her career included work with Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft and other leaders in the Missouri General Assembly.
Rita is also survived by her brother Gary Alexander of Linneus, mother-in-law Doris Clarkson of Brookfield, and many more family members and treasured friends. Her parents, to whom she was devoted, preceded her in death.
Throughout her life, she was a person of strong faith. A celebration of Rita’s life will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at the First United Methodist Church with the Reverend Buck Cueni-Smith officiating. A private interment will be at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rita’s memory to www.backstoppers.org, or www.surgeforwater.org.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Freeman Mortuary.