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Martha Ann Rife

Posted December 23, 2013 in Ankeny, Obituaries

December 12, 1936 – December 20, 2013

Martha Rife

Martha Rife

Martha Ann Rife, age 77, the mother of Ankeny resident, DeAnn Cox, passed away quietly on Friday morning December 20, 2013 at the Cox Residence in Ankeny after a long illness.

A current resident of Boise, Idaho, Martha was born December 12, 1936 to Pheoba Pauline Businger and George Lee Rayl in the little town of Ada, Ohio, home of Ohio Northern University and Wilson professional footballs. She was educated in Ada public schools, graduated from Ada high school in 1954 and attended Ohio Northern University. She left home in 1957 and got a job working in the offices of American Electric Power in Lima, Ohio, a small industrial city not far from Ada. She rented a room from a local woman, bought herself a red ’55 ford with a white top and became an independent woman.

In August of 1960, at age 23, serendipitous events led to an encounter with a young engineer recently arrived in town to work at the local Westinghouse plant. He fell for her lovely smile and asked her for a date. She wasn’t particularly impressed with him, but with nothing else on her social calendar, she accepted. One thing lead to another and In late November he took her to Hart Jewelers in Lima and asked her to pick out an engagement ring, which she happily did, along with a wedding band. They announced their engagement on Christmas day 1960. After a whirlwind courtship, she became Mrs. Dwayne Rife on May 13, 1961.

She left her job at AEP in 1962 to become a domestic engineer and full time partner to her husband. Her first son, David, was born in 1963 and daughter, Lynnette, in 1964. With a husband who travelled frequently on business and two young children, she put child bearing on hiatus to concentrate on the rearing of her children.

In 1970 she and Dwayne transferred to Pittsburgh. With the two children approaching the end of grade school, she again pursued her urge to increase her family. In 1972 she gave birth to her second daughter, DeAnn. A year later her second son, Sean, was born.

She knew that a good education was the highway to success in life. She not only stressed education in the lives of her children, but took advantage of every occasion to participate by volunteering in their schools and making sure they took advantage of educational opportunities.

Her children and grandchildren were the major focus of her life. When the family dispersed as they grew older she travelled several months a year to stay involved in their lives. The greatest accomplishments in her life were those of her children and grandchildren. She was proud of them all.

When disease cast the shadow of death upon her life in 2007 she and her husband found ways to travel comfortably so she could continue close ties with her family. Knowing the end was near she came to Ankeny one last time to spend the Holidays and enjoy her end of life among the ones she loved.

Survivors include her husband of 52 years, Dwayne Rife of Boise, Idaho; brother Ron (Amy) Rayl of Marietta Ohio; daughter DeAnn (Daren) Cox of Iowa; son, David (Karen) Rife of Missouri; son Sean (Trixie) Rife of Pennsylvania, and 15 grandchildren. Her parents, a daughter, Lynnette, and sister Carolyn (Bob) Cole preceded her in death.

A celebration of her life will be held Saturday, December 28th at 10:00 AM at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 729 E. First St.; Ankeny. A Visitation will be held at 9:00 AM prior to the service. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Unity Point at Home ( or to a charity of your choice.

Information provided by:
Ankeny Funeral Home and Crematory
1510 West First Street
Ankeny, IA 50021

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