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925 S 27th Street
Phone: 406-245-6427
Fax: 406-259-3558
Rita Leader

Rita R. Leader (Depner)

Thursday, April 15th, 1937 - Wednesday, April 24th, 2019
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Rita Depner Leader left us unexpectedly on April 24, 2019 as the result of a tragic fall. Despite our loss, her spirit lives on in the many lives she touched throughout her 82 years.

Rita was born in Billings on April 15, 1937 to Martin and Katherine (Gerber) Depner, the youngest of 9 children. She attended Fratt Memorial School, Billings Central Catholic High School, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Mary College in Leavenworth, KS. A strong faith filled her heart and led her to enter the religious community of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, KS right after high school.

After 16 years as an SCL, Rita took her life in a new direction and married Helmueth (Mutt) Leader in 1970. At that time, Mutt was a widower with two young sons. Together they had a daughter, Amy. She worked as a social worker for over 25 years and very much enjoyed working with clients who had developmental disabilities as well as elderly clients.

Rita was a very kind and compassionate person who loved people and animals alike. In retirement she volunteered at St. Vincent DePaul and in the NICU at St. Vincent Healthcare. She was very active in her church.

Rita was predeceased by her parents, sisters Helen Nordlund and Mary Depner, SCL, and brother Arnold Depner.

She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Helmueth Leader, her sons Jeff and Tim Leader, her daughter Amy (Dean) Wells, her granddaughter Jennifer (James) Potter, great granddaughter Cecelia Potter, and her siblings Earl, Art and Ed Depner and Patricia Gomm, and many nieces and nephews.

A Vigil will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, 215 N. 31st St. in Billings. Funeral Mass will be held at 12:00 p.m. on Monday, April 29, 2019 at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral. Rite of Committal follows Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery. Condolences for the family may be shared at In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Help for Homeless Pets, St. Vincent DePaul or charity of your choice.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Sunday, April 28th, 2019 | 5:00pm
    Sunday, April 28th, 2019 5:00pm
    St. Patrick Co-Cathedral
    215 N. 31st Street
    BILLINGS, MT 59102
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Rosary begins at 5:00 p.m.
  • Service

    Monday, April 29th, 2019 | 12:00pm
    Monday, April 29th, 2019 12:00pm
    St. Patrick Co-Cathedral
    215 N 31st St
    BILLINGS, MT 59101
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Father Robert D. Grosch
  • Interment

    Holy Cross Cemetery
    1601 Mullowney Lane
    BILLINGS, MT 59101
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Posted at 12:06pm
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Posted at 06:29pm
Rita was incredibly special to the NICU family at St. Vincent Healthcare and will be greatly missed by the babies and the entire staff. She touched the lives of so many little ones long before the "cuddler" program was even implemented. She gave so much love and attention to those who were in the greatest need. I'll miss listening to her chat with the babies and telling them how special they are.

Rich Schultz

Posted at 04:22pm
I grew up next door to the Depners, and Rita often babysat me when I was younger. I had not seen her for several years, but she remembered me when I visited her about ten years ago when I moved back to Billings. We even bought our lot from Daddy Depner! My condolences go out to all of Rita's family; she will be greatly missed.
~ Rich Schultz

Dick Kraske

Posted at 03:36pm
It is sad to hear about Rita's passing. The last time I saw Rita was in 2004 when I attended a celebration of Central High's 50th class reunion at her residence. Having graduated from Senior high in 1954 I had attended Fratt memorial for 8 years before, graduating with Rita. When I walked into her house having not seen her for over 54 years it was like walking into one of the classrooms that we shared at Fratt as she was always friendly and supportive as I had remembered her. She was consistently one of the smartest students in the classroom and one of the most interesting. One of the most memorable events in my life was the graduation party for the Fratt students at Rita's house. Some of us had drifted over to her neighbors house during the evening and were terrified after seeing what we thought were shrunken human heads and other aboriginal artifacts in his basement. It got more exciting when her neighbor brought "Ichabod", his pet alligator out of a warm shelter into the back yard and put him on the lawn. A lot of us took off running. Her neighbor was an adventurer who traveled all over the world as I recall. The world needs more people like Rita. She was always a person that I admired and am saddened that she is no longer with us.

Sincerely, Dick Kraske - Seattle

Twiwana Francis

Posted at 11:15pm
Ms. Rita was a beautiful soul inside and out! We walked together whenever weather and health permitted. I will miss her so much, her wonderful talks about life, God, and just great happy attitude. My heartfelt sympathy to all of you! God bless you Mutt, I know you will miss her so much! Your neighbor and friend, TJ

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