Starrett City Staff & Students Remember Rita Hilu

Rita Hilu at the 2017 library staff meeting.
Rita Hilu at the 2017 library staff meeting.

We asked Starrett City staff and students to share their memories of Rita Hilu, our library assistant who passed away recently. Here are their words:

“Students called her Ms. Rita. [For us] as coworkers, it was just plain old Rita. She was caring, loving, and kind, always there whenever you needed her. Hard to find anyone sweeter. She will be missed and [we] are blessed and glad [we were] able to meet her. Rest in peace Rita.”  –Stanley Chavis, Admissions Counselor and Ann-Marie Chavis, Academic Advisement and Touro alumnus

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“It is inconceivable to me that Rita is no longer with us. It feels like she is just on one of her cherished vacations in Israel with the wonderful children and perfect grandchildren who were the light of her life and that she will be back in a week’s time beaming with pride. The students at Starrett City were like an extended family to her. She was always available and took such joy in helping each and every one of them. It was clear that serving as librarian at our site wasn’t just a job- it was a calling. Starrett already feels like a sadder, colder place without her warm smile and ever-ready candy dish to satisfy my sweet tooth. She will truly be missed by all of us. We were lucky to have known her when we did. She brightened our lives in so many ways.” –Ilene Rubenstein, Academic Advisor

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“I started as a security guard in 2016 at Starrett City Touro College. The day I met
Ms. Rita Hilu was the same day I adored her. Ms. Rita, in my eyes, was a
blessing. We would talk a lot about traveling and her family, which she loved so
much. Her grandchildren were her treasure that she kept in her heart. Ms. Rita
will be missed. May Rita rest in peace and blessings for the family.” –Dollinda White, Security Guard

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“Just a note to tell you a little about your mom/and grandma (Bubbe). I have worked with Rita for 10 years at Touro (Starrett), and she was one of the most professional, dedicated people that I ever had the good fortune to know, personally and professionally. More than that, I have seen her go out of her way to help our students, and myself as well, when we were investigating an environmental problem hat required her expertise. She was truly ‘one in a million.’ It was my good fortune to have known her and worked with such an outgoing, helpful woman. She was truly a ‘woman of valor.’ –Suzanne Gottstein, Adjunct Instructor

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“Dearest Rita,

It’s still hard for me to grasp the concept of you not coming back, but I hope that wherever you are, you’re resting easy and enjoying the afterlife. I am grateful for the time that I got to know you. Can you imagine there once was a time we were strangers, but then we became friends.

You ALWAYS treated me with such respect and when I got hurt you sincerely showed concern throughout my healing process, giving me advice on how to better care for myself and offering to go to the store just so I [would] have to (as you would say) ‘stay off that leg’ and for that I am truly grateful.

Your spirit was always positive even on the days you weren’t feeling 100%. You found positivity in everything. On rainy days you’d say it’s good for the plants, on snowy days, you [were] happy knowing your grandchildren [would] have fun playing in it. So if I’ve learned anything, Ms. Rita, it’s to try and find the good in the things that I cannot change. You will be truly missed.” –Alveta, student

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“She was an amazing Librarian. I spent many days/hours with her in the Library. The day I lost my father Rita comforted me and motivated me to complete my work that was due that day…Then she passes the next day. I’m extremely sad and I will miss her.” –Tina, student

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