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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

Remembering Miss Rita

Miss+Rita+in+Acorn+Cafe.
Miss Rita in Acorn Cafe.

Saying goodbye to a Wofford icon

Rita Ann Rillman, affectionately known by the Wofford community as Miss Rita, passed away Saturday, Sept. 19 at Regional Hospice Home in Spartanburg at the age of 73.

Most current Wofford students never knew her, save for the class of 2021. Her last days on campus in the fall of 2017 were erratic as she battled injuries and health issues that eventually led to her retirement as the supervisor of Acorn Café.

For her over 18 years at Wofford, coffee from Miss Rita kept the college fueled and functioning. You would need only to have visited Acorn Café a few times and ordered the same thing before she would greet you, “You want your regular?”

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Even more valuable than her coffee were her conversations. She was the kind of person who asked, “How are you doing, hun?” and she would actually care to hear your response.

G.R. Davis, professor of biology recalls her questioning further, “So really. How are things?”, if her intuition told her something was wrong.

She treated every person who visited her like the most important person in the room. Perhaps to the dismay of disgruntled students who rolled out of bed right before their 8 a.m. class, she never rushed her customers or her coffee-making, even if the line went out the door.

Students, faculty and staff alike would leave Acorn Café with a smile on their face after a conversation with Miss Rita. She counseled those around her through terrible sorrow and cheered with you through joyful moments. She gave sound advice and would always be the last little bit of encouragement you needed before walking up the stairs of Milliken for a test.

Miss Rita was known by her sass as much as her sweetness. She would joke with students about their party antics with a knowing wink, and was never afraid to be blunt with a student who whined to her about an all-nighter or a bad grade. She would tell you to get your head out of your ass and then remind you that it is okay to make mistakes all in the same breath.

Davis said, “That’s what’s so magical about Ms. Rita. She could listen to you and know whether you 1) needed a shoulder to cry on, 2) a pat on the back, or 3) a kick in the butt.”

Wofford will always look a little different without Miss Rita. But one thing will remain: hundreds, if not thousands, of alumni, faculty and staff will recall her memory during homecoming gatherings, class reunions ort any time they walk past her counter in Acorn Café.

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