Rita J. Ghee

March 5, 1951 ~ March 26, 2022 (age 71) 71 Years Old


Rita Ghee transitioned on March 26, 2022. Memorial Service, Saturday, April 9th at 1pm at Hope Lutheran Church, 820 Lilley Ave, Columbus, Ohio 43205 ATTN: MASK REQUIRED


Rita Toles-Ghee was born to Wilbur and Ann (Wright) Toles on March 5, 1951 in Columbus, Ohio.

She was involved in dance and several other physical activities all her life.  She started dance lessons at age 5, was a South High School cheerleader and a member of the cheerleading squad at Capital University for two years.  She gave up cheering to work part time but continued with their Dance Club.  She graduated in 1973 with her Bachelor of Arts degree and was hired by IBM as a Sales Representative in the Office Products Division.  During that stressful time of starting a new high pressure job, she saw an advertisement for JAZZERCISE, signed up for and took her first class. She was hooked on the unique combination of dance and exercise.  And thus began her years’ long love of and dedication to this fitness regimen.

Following two promotions and relocations to Atlanta and Cincinnati with IBM, Rita made the decision to leave the company and return to Columbus where she once again began taking Jazzercise classes.  Then, at the age of 42, she decided to become a Jazzercise instructor.  She was proud to be the oldest trainee and first African American female instructor in Columbus.  She taught for 25 years providing great workouts with a truly caring demeanor.  She continued to enjoy success in various areas of sales, but that was only to pay the bills.  Her true energy was devoted to her jazzercise students.

Rita loved the great outdoors.  She was a camp counselor, rode horses, held a scuba divers’ license and would ride the highest fastest roller coaster that could be found.  She was the ‘fun’ auntie to her nieces and nephews, always ready to include them in new and exciting adventures that included their favorite treats.  She also cherished her goddaughter, her namesake ‘little’ Rita, daughter of her best friend Arlinda, taking every opportunity to spoil her.  What a mischievous team they made!

She was passionate about travelling.  She and our mother took several cruises together and she took advantage of any opportunity to explore new places and enjoy different cultures.

Her latter life was dedicated to caring for our mother.  After Mom became ill in 2012, she became her fulltime caregiver until her passing last year.

Rita was preceded in death by her parents Wilbur Toles, Ann (Wright) Higgins, stepfather Ned Higgins, brothers Wilbur and Stephen Toles and niece Karah Braxton Armstrong.

She is survived by sister Deborah (William) Braxton, brother Keith Toles, stepmother Constance Toles, nieces Brittney and Morgan Braxton, nephews Addison (Tracy), Kristofer (Shannon), Garrett, and Ryun Braxton, great nephews Addison Jr. and Isaiah Braxton, great niece Emilia Braxton, and many other cousins and family members.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Rita J. Ghee, please visit our floral store.


Memorial Service
April 9, 2022

1:00 PM
Hope Lutheran Church (Columbus, Ohio)


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