Rita Ann (Yazzie) LaPlant, 75, of Browning, Mont. passed away on Sept. 29, 2020 due to complications from COVID-19 in Great Falls, Mont.
Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life is to be held at a later date for family and friends to safely attend.
Rita was born in Klagetoh, Ariz. on the Navajo Indian Reservation July 25, 1945. She was raised by her grandmother, Alice Yazzie. Rita attended local boarding schools, and graduated from Gallup High School. Rita moved to Southern California to pursue work in childcare. During her time in the Los Angeles area, Rita met Kelly J. LaPlante who was studying to become a barber during the Relocation Program. Kelly and Rita were married July 1967 in Reno, Nev. They relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area where Robert, Tracy, and Lawrence were born. She had various jobs supporting the family until Kelly graduated from the University of California-Berkeley.
In 1977, the family moved to Browning, Mont. where Rita became part of the community. Melissa was born in 1989. In 1996, Rita welcomed Kelly’s son Neal Faught into the family as one of her own. During her time in Browning, Rita would volunteer at the food bank, work at the Blackfeet Trading Post, and become a unit technician at the Crystal Creek Lodge. Rita and Kelly J. started a ranch on the South Fork Milk River, which kept them occupied for many years until it was time to settle down in town.
Rita was a trusted friend, beloved mother, hard worker, loving wife, and member of the Little Flower Catholic Parish. She had a passion for sewing and handcrafts. She loved making Native shawls, ribbon shirts, baby moccasins, and Native beaded jewelry. Rita was proud and supportive of her friends’, children’s, and grandchildren’s achievements. She celebrated their professional, academic, sports’ achievements, and sobriety.
She did what she was best at, taking care of loved ones and caring for extended family. She was the primary caretaker of her children, many grandchildren, and her husband. She loved playing Bingo and socializing with friends in the community. Later in life, caring for her grandchildren became her ultimate passion.
Rita’s family was her strength. Her greatest accomplishment was taking care of her family from a young age until her passing. Both her Navajo (Tsi’naajinii clan) and Amskapi Piikani (Southern Blackfoot) families will truly miss her caring and compassionate heart. She made many friends in the community who will greatly miss her. Please share stories about her with family and friends. Her family would like to honor her memory with your stories during this unusual time. Rita made several long-lasting, cherished friendships in the community and North Central Montana. She always greeted new and old friends with happiness and a smile, while sharing her laughter when you needed it most. Rita always made you feel loved.
She is survived by her husband, Kelly James; her four children and step-son, Robert, Tracy, Lawrence, Melissa and Neal; as well as, her many grandchildren; sister, Martha Leonard; aunts she was raised with as her sisters, Lillie Shirley (deceased), Lorena Lynch, Frannie Jarmillo, and Nancy Chee of the Navajo Reservation; along with several cousins, nieces, nephews too numerous to list.
Donations to assist with the care of her grandchildren, Daniel, Jesse, and Chantee, can be made payable to Rita LaPlant Memorial Fund, c/o Altana Federal Credit Union, (3212 Central Avenue, Billings, MT 59102).
Condolences for the family may be shared online at www.SchniderFuneralHome.com.