Anita Ragole: Sophistication and Service
Editor’s Note: Anita Ragole of Mutual 10 died on Sept. 16. She was a well-known and beloved figure in Leisure World, participating in many clubs and especially known for her musical talent and generous spirit. The following is an appreciation by her friend Rhonda Sandberg.
by Rhonda Sandberg
special to the LW Weekly
I often called her “sophisticated lady” because she dressed and carried herself like a model. I have known and worked with Anita Ragole for over 12 years. When we met, she was a member of the Leisure World Chorale.
I had just become the director, so I was getting to know the members a little at a time. As is usual, there are those in any group who immediately stand out, and this was Anita. She not only was a standout as a very pretty lady, but she also became a great help to me right away, especially in coordinating with the governing aspects of Leisure World. Anita was a fervent supporter of the Chorale as well as a fine soloist. It was not long before I then found out how valuable she was to many clubs within the community.
In less than one year, I knew that Anita Ragole was most certainly a treasured, active and wellknown resident of Leisure World.
Over the years, the support Anita gave me proved vital as we navigated the various changes that naturally occur in any organization. Whether it was room reservations for concerts and rehearsals or food service for our shows or proper paperwork to be submitted, Anita always knew what to do. I often told her she was my left brain because I am much better at the creative, right-brain side of things than the technical, left-brain side. Without her, the left-brain needs of my groups would never have gotten done! When I wanted to start another choir, the Good News Singers, Anita was right there to guide me through the process. As usual, she made it happen, so another choir was born in Leisure World, thanks to Anita Ragole. Approximately, two years after we started the Good News Singers, I had an idea to teach a performer’s workshop. Anita immediately got to work and made this class come to fruition under the umbrella of the Chorale. So, thanks to Anita, I was able to have three wonderful classes with many talented Leisure World performers.
Speaking of “left brain” abilities, I always marveled at the cool head Anita demonstrated in a lot of incidents over the years. For example, we decided to take pictures of the Chorale just prior to a concert. She organized it and asked Kip Watkins to be the photographer. Kip set up the shot, but for some bizarre and unknown reason, many of the choir members freaked out simply because they were seated facing in a different direction than they normally sat for performances. One man even said to me “I can’t sing in the concert. This is too upsetting.” My hothead instinct would have been to say “just do it,” but instead, Anita simply asked Kip if we could face the chairs in the same direction as they were to be placed for the concert. Kip did this, and all was well. Another incident comes to mind when several of our lady friends attended an event out of town. One of the ladies accidentally slipped and fell when she was trying to get into the van. Most of us went into a panic, but Anita simply got out her cell phone, called 911, and calmed the lady who fell. She cleared the panicked people away from the lady in order to keep her calm, and I dutifully locked myself in the van to just stay out of the way, knowing that Anita had everything under control. There are many, many more incidents like this, but there is no room in this article to enumerate them, so suffice it to say that Anita Ragole was a steady, smart, cool-headed, helpful, and capable person with a heart for the people around her. She was always ready to lend a hand in any way she could with the giftings that God gave her.
The First Christian Church of Leisure World was blessed to have Anita as their choir director and soloist. When I was searching for a church for myself, she told me of her church, so I attended and soon became a member there. About a year after I joined the church, there was a need for a pianist, so it was Anita who compelled me to apply for the job. Thanks to her, I continue to happily be the pianist for this wonderful church with Anita’s dearest friend, Pat Kogok, as the organist. As a fellow Christian, it was nice to work under Anita’s direction of the choir as she had worked under my direction of the choirs she helped to create.
The aforementioned aspects of Anita as a help and a support for the work I have done in Leisure World will always mean everything to me, but this tells only half of the story. Anita also became a true friend. We lunched together frequently, often making plans for the upcoming concerts as well as simply chatting as good friends do, always managing to discuss world events and politics as well as favorite TV shows. We had frequent chats in the parking lot outside of Clubhouse 3 after rehearsals and in the church parking lot after the service. We always said that our chats ended never with a period, but always with a comma, to be continued at a later date. Anita was also present and supportive when I lost my husband and sister and two dogs. In 2018, I injured my shoulder quite badly, and it was Anita who stepped up and drove me to the doctor for the visits I required.
Sadly, Anita had been struggling health-wise for a little over a year. She was never one to complain, but as I spoke with her each day, I could feel her slipping away. That “Anita Ragole spark,” with which I and many of her friends in Leisure World were so well acquainted, was beginning to dim. Her dearest friend, Pat Kogok, and I talked often about our concern for her, always wanting what was best for her but not really, truly knowing what “the best” would be. Our church members, especially Margaret Humes and Lita Fernando, brought a lot of comfort and food to her in her waning days, and I know she liked our daily chats and her frequent visits and lunches with Pat. As time went on, it became clear that Anita was going to need more help, so her family decided to move her from her beloved Leisure World to a place where she could get more care. Prior to being moved, Anita was at her home for one day where, thanks to Pat Kogok’s call to me that day, I was able to see and visit with Anita one last time. For this, I will always be grateful because she was still lucid and smiling, eating her favorite chili from Wendy’s that Pat had brought for her.
Anita Ragole left this life on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, at approximately 12:15 p.m. Pat Kogok received a call from Anita’s daughter Gigi, and Pat then called me. Both of us felt a void for having lost such a dear friend whose presence in our lives was so significant. But we both also felt a relief for the end of her suffering, knowing that, as a Christian believer, Anita transitioned out of here and was immediately in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So, as Christians ourselves, Pat and I know that we will see Anita again in Heaven.
To Anita, dear friend, thank you for all that you were, are, and will always be to me personally.
Thank you for the frequent laughter, for the camaraderie, for your care, and for your generosity in loaning me your “left brain.” Until we meet again, my dear, enjoy your wonderful new life!
For those who would like to remember Anita Ragole as we all knew her, google “Anita Ragole at Marge Archibald’s 94th Birthday Party” and click on the youtube video.