Rhonda Western
1/17/1960 - 7/4/2005

On Independence Day 2005, I lost not only a co-worker, but a dear friend , as she was to all of those who had the pleasure to know and work with her. All were shocked to learn on May 23rd, that Rhonda had gone in for tests for severe headaches and was diagnosed with small cell cancer. The photo below was taken in June, one week after she had started radiation treatment and four weeks before she left us.

Rhonda was a Missouri farm girl at heart. Living on a small rural farm Rhonda was more comfortable raising animals than sitting at a desk. When she wasn't selling fasteners, she was busy raising miniature dachshunds. And while she had many friends, she always seemed to enjoy life the most when she was with her daughter. Rikki was not only her pride and joy, but many felt, her best friend. Her main concern upon learning of her illness, was to be there to celebrate her daughters upcoming birthday. Rikki turned 14, the day after her mother passed away.

Rhonda was a lady that wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty, always willing to do whatever it took to get a job done. She was the kind of gal that could hook a worm and clean a fish without a second thought, but would faint at the mere site of human blood, or scream at the discovery of a spider. When many of her co-workers first came to know Rhonda, she was raising ostriches, which if you haven't heard, are one of the meanest animals you can try to keep inside a fence. Her stories about fighting with these huge, ugly birds were always humorous, although the bruises she bore probably explained why she enjoyed the taste of ostrich jerky.  

Rhonda started in the fastener industry in 1994, working not only in a traditionally male dominated industry, but a physically demanding position packing orders in the warehouse. Within a year, she had advanced into sales. Rhonda's success in sales, was a reflection of her success in life. She had a dedication and drive to take care of her customers, much the same way she did for her friends. More than anyone in her office, Rhonda was more knowledgeable about all aspects of the operation, making her indispensable to her employer.

Rhonda liked to say there was no such things as problems, only challenges. She told this to her family and friends the night she announced she had cancer. Throughout her life Rhonda met each challenge  she faced with dedication and a determined drive. On July 4th, after six weeks of fight, she succumbed to her final adversary and peacefully slipped away.

Rhonda is gone now, but she will never leave those that had the honor to know and work with her. She has moved from her place amongst us to a memory. But what a sweet memory, one that will be fondly cherished. I will miss you Rhonda.

Obituary Springfield News Leader & Press 7/7/2005

Rhonda M. (Givens) Western

Rhonda M. (Givens) Western, age 45, of Ozark, Mo., passed away July 4, 2005, in her home surrounded by family. She was born January 17, 1960, in Springfield, Mo. She graduated from Parkview High School, and worked at Marine Fasteners. She was a member of First Freewill Baptist Church. She was preceded in death by her father, Earl Dean Givens. She is survived by her daughter, Richelle "Riki" Western; mother, Dorma J. Givens; brother, Steven E. Givens; sisters, Dawana D. Howell and Annette G. Winters; step-son, Derek A. Western; special father figure, Charles Printy; six nieces; three nephews; four greatnieces; and many friends. Funeral services will be in First Freewill Baptist Church, Springfield, at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 8. Burial will follow in Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight in Greenlawn Funeral Home South.