Ella Amanda Virta, of Parkway Estates, Hyattsville, MD, passed away at her home on Thursday, April 28, 2022, after a brief illness. She was 95 years old.
Ella was born in Roseville, Ohio. Her parents, Guy and Mabel Rider, were schoolteachers. They lived in town until Ella was five years old, when they moved out to the country to run the family farm. From then on, until she went away to college, she lived in the farmhouse her great-grandfather built right after the Civil War. She attended Roseville schools and graduated from Roseville High School in 1945. She then went to Ohio University in Athens. During both high school and college she played the baritone horn (euphonium) in the marching band. In the summers she worked at McCoy, one of the many potteries in her hometown, lining and painting decorative ware. After earning her teaching certificate at OU, she returned home to Roseville to teach elementary school, grades 1-3 in one classroom, in nearby Cannelville.
While at Ohio University, Ella met a returning Word War II veteran, Kay E. Virta, from Warren, Ohio. They were soon engaged and married in 1948. They moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Kay completed his education at the University of Michigan. During her stay in Michigan, she worked at Woolworth’s 5 & Dime. Her coworkers there taught her how to crochet, a craft she enjoyed all her life. In 1950 Kay and Ella relocated to the Washington, DC, area where Mr. Virta went to work for the federal government. Most of his career was spent as a cartographer with the Navy Hydrographic Office (later Naval Oceanographic Office) in Suitland. In 1955 they bought a home in the new subdivision of Parkway Estates on Annapolis Road (Route 450) where they raised three sons, Alan, Robert, and Matthew. She watched her granddaughter Caitlin there during the daytime when Caitlin was little and occasionally babysat her grandson Sam. She passed on her love of crocheting to her granddaughter and kept candy in a secret drawer just for Sam.
Ella was primarily a homemaker, though she occasionally served as a substitute teacher at her sons’ schools and worked part-time at the Hyattsville library after they were grown. She was active in the PTA, Cub Scouts, Parkway Estates Homemakers, and the Methodist Church. She taught Sunday school and belonged to church circles, craft and quilting clubs, and other committees at Lanham Methodist, Christ Methodist (Landover Hills), First (Hyattsville), and Cheverly United Methodist Church. She loved old Methodist hymns, often singing or humming “In the Garden,” as she worked around the house, a song she learned from her mother, who did the same. After Kay retired, he and Ella took up square dancing. They made one trip to Finland to meet Kay’s Finnish relatives. Ella was a judge of elections at the polls in her home precinct in for more than two decades.
Ella was preceded by her husband Kay Virta, who died in 1991; her parents Guy and Mabel Rider; three brothers and sisters-in-law, James Guy (Inez), Jerry Price (May), and William Harvey (Mary) Rider, and brother-in-law Robert Abel. She is survived by three sons, Alan of Boise, ID, Robert of Cheverly, MD, and Matthew and his wife Rebecca of Cheverly; granddaughter Caitlin Minch and her husband David, of Odenton, MD, grandson Samuel Virta and his wife Jada, of Alexandria, VA; her sister, Jean Abel of Zanesville, OH; cousin, Virginia Auther of Springfield, VA; and fourteen nieces and nephews on both her and her husband’s sides of the family.
Ella’s life was centered on home and family. Her wish was to spend her last years in her own home, and she was able to do so with the help of her family, particularly her son Bob, who visited her daily. After a brief hospitalization, she passed peacefully in her home of 67 years, with family at her bedside, on her 95th birthday. Gifts in her memory to the United Methodist Board of Child Care will be gratefully accepted (boardofchildcare.org).
Visitation will be held on Monday, May 9 from 5 to 7 pm, with a brief service at 7 pm, at Gasch’s Funeral Home, 4739 Baltimore Ave, Hyattsville, MD 20781. Ella’s ashes will be interred beside those of her husband’s in Rose Hill Cemetery, Roseville, Ohio.
A Mom is Someone Special
By Matthew Rider Virta in honor of my mother Ella Amanda Rider Virta following her passing on her 95th birthday April 28, 2022
A Mom is someone holding you close at night to calm your infant fears,
A Mom is someone to fix scraped knees and wipe away your tears.
A Mom is someone volunteering at the elementary school book fair,
A Mom is someone her child won’t realize who is somehow always there.
A Mom is someone who lets the teenage child experience a loosened rein,
A Mom is someone who knows to pull the lead to call you in again.
A Mom is someone who sees the child grown and is so very proud,
A Mom is someone who has shared life lessons but was never very loud.
A Mom is someone to see the grown child leave and off to make their start,
A Mom is someone who maintains the child always closer in her heart.
A Mom is someone to see you married and welcome someone new,
A Mom is someone to understand just how perfect they are for you.
A Mom is someone who becomes grander yet and watches newborn kin,
A Mom is someone special to see her caring start yet again.
A Mom is someone who at her days end you owe your thanks and more,
A Mom is someone who God welcomes throwing open wide the door.