RIGIANI, Violet Doreen, 89, died on Sunday, October 20th, 2013 at Clarehouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Doreen, who detested being called Violet and whose middle name, but for a deaf vicar, would have been Lorraine was born on October 30th, 1923, in Chirk in Denbighshire, North Wales, to Priscilla and Leonard Dawson Williams.
In school, Doreen excelled at sports and could easily outrun the boys in her class. At age 11, she was invited to train with the legendary Birchfield Harriers, the premier UK athletics club. Reluctantly, she had to turn down this opportunity because she would have had to move away from home.
On December 24th, 1945, she married John Rigiani, who she had been dating for several years. During their courtship, their only mishap was that she mistakenly thought he had broken up with her because she did not hear from him for several weeks. Finally, he resurfaced about thirty pounds lighter having survived twelve days on a raft following the sinking by a U boat of the British merchant ship Viking Star, on which he was third officer.
Prior to her marriage, Doreen worked as a nurse in Chirk. She started as a junior nurse and progressed to become a ward sister specializing in midwifery.
Throughout her life, Doreen was active in education, being a governor of several schools in England. She was also passionately involved in civic affairs and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Conservative Party and particularly Margaret Thatcher. Her interest in serious pursuits was balanced by her elegance and her keen sense of fashion even in her later years.
After John’s retirement in 1983, they left England to be with their only daughter and her family. Expecting to bask in the Texas sunshine, they had to make a quick adjustment when the family moved within a year to Oak Brook, Illinois. She enjoyed gardening, looking after her grandchildren and singing first soprano at St Andrews Church in Downers Grove. John died in 1994 and, shortly thereafter, Doreen moved with the family to Connecticut and then to Tulsa in 1999.
Doreen is survived by her daughter, Jane Emanuel, son-in-law, David, grandsons, Joshua and Alexis and granddaughter Chloe. In addition, she is survived by brothers James (Bronwen) and Neil (Marlene) of St Martins, Shropshire, and sister Heather Rowson (Alan) of Dardanup, Western Australia. She was predeceased by her parents and a brother, Bernard, of St Martins, Shropshire.
Memorial Service and reception will be Wednesday, October 30th, at 2:00 p.m. at Clare House, 7617 South Mingo Road, Tulsa, OK 74133. Officiating is Rev. Cindy Ritter. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Clare House or Tulsa Ballet.
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