A woman who touched many aspects of her community and state has found her rest.
Rita Sealock, 85, died Thursday at Risen Son Christian Village.
“I’m saddened by her passing,” said Dick Christie, who was superintendent of Council Bluffs Community School District while Sealock served on the board of education.
Sealock was a high school English teacher for about 10 years, serving in several different school districts, including Council Bluffs Community Schools, and also taught at Iowa Western Community College. She later had a career in banking, culminating in a stint as a vice president of First National Bank in Council Bluffs.
She was also a multifaceted community volunteer. She served on the Council Bluffs Community School District Board of Education for 13 years, including five terms as president.
“She was a great board member,” Christie said. “On the one hand, she was very supportive and always offered positive comments and a positive outlook. On the other hand, she also would be gracious in saying what changes or improvements should be made. I certainly respected her — and I think the other board members did as well.”
Sealock was also respected in Des Moines, where she advocated for education, Christie said. Local legislators and the governor knew who she was, he said.
“She was a strong leader but a very kind person,” he said. “There was never any doubt … that she was in it for the kids.”
“She was just a very professional individual who was concerned about the community and the state,” said Francis Clark, who served on the school board during the tail end of Sealock’s years. “She was a big contributor to the school board.”
Clark also worked with her when he was a member of the Green Hills Area Education Agency Board, which provides support services to southwest Iowa school districts.
“I observed a lot of school board members during that time, and she was one that stood out as an outstanding school board member,” he said. “She was always very nice, very friendly and very kind — an enjoyable person to be around. Rita’s somebody who’s going to be missed in the community.”
Sealock became a member of the Christian Home Association Board in 1973 and remained a steadfast volunteer and advocate for the organization.
“That was right when we were moving from the orphanages to community-based services and therapy,” said Carol Wood, CEO of Children’s Square USA.
Sealock became secretary in 1976, vice president in 1977 and the board’s first female president in 1978, succeeding Ron Sealock, whom she married five years later.
“She had the respect of the board and, as the first woman to become chair, she was paving the way for the future,” Wood said.
Sealock made a commitment to lead the organization through the transition, Wood said.
“She always had a heart for kids,” she said.
Years later, Sealock was one of the founding members of Friends of Children’s Square and served on the board for many years, including terms as treasurer and secretary.
Sealock served on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for 13 years, including three terms as chairwoman and two terms as vice chairwoman.
She was awarded the Heritage Award for Education in 1998 by the Mercy Hospital Guild.
Sealock reigned as queen of the Renaissance Faire of the Midlands in 1999 opposite His Majesty John Nelson.
She and Ron were awarded a Jason Award by Children’s Square USA in 2009 for being Friends of Education.
On April 22, 2015, the Council Bluffs Chapter of Trees Forever planted a red oak tree on the west side of Bayliss Park in honor of Sealock, who had been a member for 21 years.
Sealock was involved with many state and national boards, including the National School Board Association, Iowa School Board Legislative Network, Iowa Department of Education F.I.N.E. Committee, W.I.P.P. State Board and Trees Forever State Board.
Locally, she was also involved in the Southwest Iowa Scholarship Foundation Board, Service League, P.E.O., American Association of University Women Board, United Fund Council Bluffs, Iowa Western Citizens Committee, Iowa Heart Association, Broadway Methodist and New Horizon Presbyterian Church, Council Bluffs Guild of the Omaha Symphony, Chanticleer Community Theater Auxiliary, Historic General Dodge House, Council Bluffs Airport Commission, Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce, Joslyn Art Museum Guild, Mercy Hospital Foundation Board, Ameristar Casino-Hotel Advisory Board, Renaissance Faire of the Midlands and Phi Mu Sorority Collegiate Alumni Association.
The funeral service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at New Horizon Presbyterian Church, 30 Valley View Drive, with visitation starting one hour earlier. Food and fellowship will follow. A private family interment will be held at Cedar Lawn Cemetery.