There are many ways to describe Rita Haggardt but my favorites include kind, sweet, humble, strong, opinionated, proud, thoughtful, caring, giving, loving, sharing, generous, and most of all inspiring. Many people in the Bannock County area know her as Mrs. Haggardt, Aunt Rita, Great Aunt, Mom Sister, Teacher, and Best Friend. I know her simply as my Democrat Mom who is always there to lend a helping hand.
Rita Demopoulos Haggardt was born in Pocatello, Idaho to a proud Greek family and will tell you that being Democrat is in her blood. She was married to Terry Haggardt, who was a school teacher, for 31 years from 1967-1998 before he passed away. Rita received her bachelor’s degree in education at Idaho State University and taught children at Syringa Elementary in Pocatello for 32 years before retiring. She then spent another 13 years at Idaho State University’s College of Education as the supervisor for student teachers, passing along her knowledge of teaching profession to college students.
Rita was President of the local chapter of the Idaho Education Association and was a member of the Idaho Education Association’s Board of Directors at the state level as well. She is in the Retired Educators Hall of Fame as recognized by South East Idaho Educators.
Rita grew up Greek Orthodox but now calls the Trinity Episcopal Church home where she is beloved by all, and spends a great amount of time working in the soup kitchen supervising teams that feed the hungry. Rita stays involved with Feed the 5000, which is an interfaith food drive to raise money and food donations to the feed the hungry in Southeast Idaho. She also chaired the drive in years past as well. She is a Neighborhood Watch activist and an active United Way volunteer.
She’s an active Zonta member at the local and regional levels. She has held many leadership positions in various organizations including the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Alpha Omicron Pi International Social Sorority Alumni Chapter President and Delta Kappa Gama, Beta chapter current treasurer and past chair.
In the early 2000s, Rita was awarded the Minnie Howard Award by the Pocatello Chamber of Commerce. Nominees for this award must be successful be successful professional women, and leaders in their field and community as well as mentors for other women. Last month, Rita was presented the Joy Morrison Humanitarian Award from the Portneuf Valley Interfaith Fellowship. Rita was the recipient of the 2013 Ron Timpson award bestowed by the Pocatello Chapter of the NAACP for demonstrated leadership and service that has had a positive impact in the community. Rita is always supportive of the community and Democratic candidates. Rita is our treasure and I hereby nominate her for the Dottie Stimpson Award.