Stories About Rhiannon's Childhood & School Years - aka Rhia
(Also see Danita's page for more stories, and please Submit a Story of your own!)
Yes, yes, she was named after the song by Fleetwood Mac. At the time of her birth, we thought it was spelled Rianna, so that's what originally went on her birth certificate - but later we found the correct spelling, and since that's what we'd intended to name her, we actually had it changed.
These two pictures were taken around Christmas of 1981. To the left she was sporting the new coat that her Great Grandma knitted for her! Miranda had one just like it only in blue. To the right, she was watching TV with her sister's arm around her. Don't you just love that smile?
Rhia and her sister were raised with many animals including horses, and even as very young girls they would climb up on Champ or Dolly by pulling themselves up by the saddle strings. We would trail ride 3 times a week and go out for a couple of hours at a time. Champ and Dolly also worked as a team to pull a wagon, and
several times we took groups of their friends out on hay rides and even collected garbage along the side of the road.
We also had cats, dogs, pigs, ducks and geese, and even a pet skunk for a while named Ralph. He had been orphaned, and we took him in and raised him. All the girls' friends thought it was really cool to hold him in their laps and pet him. He loved Italian food - pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, etc., but would eat almost anything!
Miranda is 2 years older, and her birthday is the day after Rhiannon's. The two shared many great birthday parties. This one included a hay ride with the team of horses. One time we had a party at the rollerrink. The girls rollerskated every week!
Rhia took private piano lessons for several years, and after that took trumpet and drum lessons for a short while. She could sing beautifully and dance - we even country line danced for a few years together - and oh, how she would hate that I told you that! You know - the Boot Scoot Boogey, the Electric Slide, the Reggae Cowboy - there were lots more. That gave her the basis for choreographing dance routines to do with her friends at the clubs they went to when she was older.
Each year we came up with some great Halloween costumes, and this picture was taken when she became "Vincent" from the TV show "The Beauty and the Beast" where the man turned into a lion. None of her classmates recognized her!
From Greg Howell - I've known Rhia since 5th grade. I went through the rest of school and graduated with her. I remember her as the girl with the pet skunk, the girl on the cheerleading squad and knew she was a kind person. She wasn't stuck up, or fake, or mean like some girls. She was someone I wished I could have known better. We were never great friends, we just never crossed paths that much. I married Jeanne Grimord, a friend of hers, and got to experience Rhia as an adult. Jeanine, her best friend, was our roommate for a time and this one memory of Rhia comes to mind: She was in Mt. Pleasant visiting Jeanine, but both Jeanine and my wife had to work one night, so I took Rhia to a movie. I just remember how comfortable I felt with her and how easy it would have been to love her and be her friend. She treated me like I had been her friend for years. I guess, in a way - going through school together - we were. It was the last time I saw her and something I've been thinking about every day since the day I heard she was gone. Reading everything on this site, I know Rhia was just that type of person that made you feel comfortable and good to be around. My heart goes out to all those people that she loved and were privileged enough to love her.
From Ben Spencer - When I was in 8th grade back home in Kingsford, MI, I was standing in line waiting for my school bus with several other students. (This puts Rhiannon at 6th grade.) As I stood talking to my friend, I overheard the silly laughter of two girls behind me. Always being aware of a good time around me, I looked over my shoulder to see two familiar faces. At first, I thought they were gawking at me, but then I realized they were actually checking me out. So, I did my best to stick out the butt that they were commenting on, and turned to look at them to let them know I knew what they were up to. Both girls turned red and flustered as they giggled away. The funny part of this story is that Rhiannon told me it the day we met as friends. She told me she remembered me doing it and how embarrassed they were. I didn't even remember this event until she reminded me of it. This story continued to make us laugh for years to come.
Rhia and Kate were inseparable for a while. These were her days of "grunge" with the big baggy pants and T-shirts. I hated those clothes, but I figured most boys wouldn't even give her a second look dressed like she was, so I quit fighting it. Pick your battles...
She broke her nose skiing, and also enjoyed snowboarding, rollerblading, and skateboarding. I remember her practicing on her skateboard outside on the driveway. She would do little jumps and kicks with it - of course they all had names that went along with them, but she always seemed to land on her feet. I never remember her ever falling down or getting hurt.
Rhia drew on the walls in her room (with permission) with a black magic marker. Little did I know you cannot paint over that very well - it still shows through... Later she even drew a few tattoos that she had done.
From Theresa Niemela - During the Middle School years I considered Rhia to be my best friend, and I had many good times at her house. I specifically remember going on the trip to Noah's Ark with you all - what a great time! I will always remember Rhia for her genuine heart and how she wasn't afraid to try anything. Rhia had many accomplishments in her short life - more than some have in an entire lifetime. I am very proud of her for that. Even though Rhia and I lost touch over the years and moved onto separate paths, I still remember our friendship and will continue to do so.
The trip to Noah's Ark at Wisconsin Dells, was one I'll never forget either! It was a comedy of errors! Each year I would take the girls for a trip somewhere. One year we went to 6 Flags Great America, once to the Mall of America, etc, and each time I would let one girl take a friend - we alternated. Well this was Rhia's turn and we took Theresa with us for some water park fun! We got there late in the afternoon, and thought we'd take a quick dip in the motel pool. We unloaded the car, and discovered one bag was missing. Mine! I always thought how much fun it would be to go on vacation and buy a wardrobe once you got there. Well, it's not as much fun as imagined! The girls swam in the pool which was very hot, and then we went down the road to find a Wal-Mart store so I could have a change of clothes and a swimsuit to wear to the park the next day. We also located some coupons to get $3.00 off each admission ticket to Noah's Ark! The next morning I had to iron one of the shirts I bought, and thought I could do that quite easily on the floor of the room. Well - I never seen a carpet turn brown and melt so fast! It must have been made of nylon! It was something to deal with later, and we set off for the park. We parked and grabbed our towels from the trunk. I put on a wristband with cash and left my purse in the trunk along with the coolers of food and drinks. We planned to picnic under the trees at lunch time. It was at this time we realized the $3.00 off coupons were forgotten on the bed at the motel. Miranda grabbed the last towel and slammed the trunk - car keys included! Well, we stood in line to get in for quite a while and paid full price. I set the girls up at the big wave pool where I knew I would be able to find them (they were all great swimmers), and I set off to find someone to open the trunk to get the keys out. A park official tried to help and broke some tools before calling in a locksmith. I waited another hour in the parking lot for him to show up, and he easily made a new key and we got into the car within about 15 minutes! By then it was lunch time, so I found the girls, had lunch, and we had fun the rest of the time. When we packed up to come home, I didn't know what I was going to say to the motel about the carpeting. Even though I really felt bad about it, I thought they probably had insurance to cover it. There was a maid getting supplies in the closet next door to our room, and "big mouth" Rhia says, "Are you going to tell them you burned the rug?" I shushed her, but it was too late - the maid heard us. In the end I wound up having to pay for new carpeting as well. It was a vacation nightmare! One we still laugh about! :)
From Genny (McIntyre) Angeloff - Rhia was such a special person who was full of life and truly brightened a room when she walked in. This world will be be a little dimmer without her here. I will never forget our days of cheering together and all the memories that leaves me with. In this picture Corinne is holding her up and I am spotting her.
From Jeanne (Grimord) & Greg Howell - Rhia was a great friend with so much heart. I will never forget the birthday parties we all attended together during our growing years or being completely amazed that someone had a skunk as a pet. Rhia will live on in our hearts and memories forever.
From Veronica (Olson) Beltran - No words are expressible for missing such a gorgeous person, so full of life, and so vibrant. I missed her after graduating and leaving town, but throughout the years her smile, and sense of humor roamed through my thoughts from time to time. More often than not, Rhia was kind, sincere and just beautiful. I am sorry I lost contact with her, and I am more sorry that I won't be able to get to know her now.
From Stacey (Beaulier) Weecks - I graduated with Rhia and always thought she was just so intriguing. I remember taking a road trip to Michigan Tech with her and listening to "Usher" on her LOUD stereo system. I also remember going to a dance club in Appleton with her. She was always so creative and full of energy! You couldn't help but adapt her personality and her passion for life when you were around her. Unfortunately we lost touch after high school but I can remember her glow as if it was yesterday and want you to know that she touched my life.
From Jeanine Peerenboom - What can I say about my girl Rhiannon besides she was the truest friend I have ever had in my life. No one knew me better than she did. A simple look between us was enough to say a thousand words only we would understand. We had the type of friendship that most people spend their entire life searching for and I am honored to have had that with her. She taught me a lot in the 12 years we were best friends. Nothing was impossible when she and I were together. Every day was an adventure and we always thought we could conquer the world...we even tried a few times. I remember going to SC to visit her May 2004. She said we were gonna go riding. She knew I was terrified of bikes so she said she would have me ride with Jason because she trusted him with me and that I would be fine with him. I was leery when he asked me if he could ride a wheelie with me on the bike within the first ten minutes I knew him but I knew I'd be ok. Rhiannon always had a way of calming my fears for such things. She trusted him; so I did. It was my first and only time on a bike and my arms were very sore the next day but it was fun. Had she not been there I never would have rode though. It was all for her. She was so proud of what she could do and always wanted to include me in everything she did. I'll never forget her for that. My life was better with her in it and even though she has gone to a better place, I know that one day we will meet again and she will still have that shotgun spot saved for me in her car because thats how we had been and always will be...best friends forever.
Ryan and Rhiannon were good friends all through school, and every time she came "home" she would make a point to go visit him.
From Ryan McConnell - I met Rhiannon Im guessing around the age of 14. We hung out from time to time until we got into high school, which is when hanging out became more regular. We'd talk on the phone pretty much every night, and usually would meet up on the weekends. She and I could always talk, right from the get go. If either of us was having a down day, we could always count on the other to have a shoulder, or the time to just be there. I remember her first car stereo - she was all about the JL Audio 10's and at the time, I was about Kickers. We would rib each other about which was better. I remember good times at Night Moves or the BS Bar dancing, having fun and just chit chatting. We lost touch for awhile, while she was in Green Bay doing her thing, but when she got to SC, we started to get back in touch again, talking online or on the phone occasionally and nothing was lost, it was just good like that. Because we'd always fall back into our own routine. Talking, having fun, stereos, anything fast on two or four wheels or life's issues. Speaking of 4 wheels, I still remember her bragging about her Dad's '40 Ford. I still see it from time to time cruising by on Upper Pine Creek Rd (in season). Its humbling to know that she made it a point to visit me, with all the family and friends she has up here (many if not all mutual). She's missed for sure, but remembered even more, and there is a lot. She's good like that ;)