Students at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Warren, PA, will benefit for years to come thanks to an endowment named for a beloved teacher.

Rita Bevevino was first approached about teaching at Saint Joseph School by a nun who taught there. “I think I was asked because I’m outgoing,” she said with a humble shrug. Rita accepted that invitation and her tenure lasted for 20 years. “I just fit there,” she explained. “Sister (Mariella Hawthorne, Saint Joseph School principal) found out I could play the piano and the next thing I knew I was doing the school play.” It wasn’t long before Sister Mariella began instructing Rita in liturgical music and she began playing the organ at church. Rita taught 4th and 5th grades. She favored those grades because “at that point the kids weren’t learning to read, they were reading to learn.”

Bevevino Rita Yearbook headshot
Rita's photo from a Saint Joseph School yearbook

The Catholic mission of Saint Joseph School is very important to Rita, as well as to her husband, Bill. The two met in college in Ohio. They moved to Bill’s hometown of Warren, after getting married in 1964.

In the tight-knit Warren community over the years, Bill and Rita developed a friendship with Bob Crowley, the Catholic Foundation’s current board chair. In recent years Bob introduced them to the work of the Foundation. Unbeknownst to Rita, Bill established the Rita M. Bevevino Endowment for Saint Joseph School to honor his beloved wife and support the school that means so much to her. “I wanted to honor her in this way because I’m crazy about her!” Bill said spontaneously, when asked about his inspiration for naming the endowment after Rita. He added, “and it’s worthwhile to help the school because it’s a great institution.”

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Carrie Pearson, current principal of Saint Joseph School

When Bill told Rita about this legacy fund, she was very surprised by Bill’s gesture. It was “especially touching because it is named for me,” she smiled.

Interestingly, one of Rita’s students years ago was Carrie Pearson, the current principal of Saint Joseph School. Carrie told Bob Crowley that Rita was her favorite teacher. “Mrs. Bevevino was a funny teacher who always made us laugh and enjoy what we were learning,” she said. “I have fond memories thinking about her witty jokes and fun personality.”

After a long and brave battle with Parkinson's disease, Rita passed away in January 2024 knowing her legacy to Saint Joseph School will continue far beyond her lifetime. In Rita’s obituary Bill invited gifts to the endowment and many chose to honor Rita. “It was gratifying to see how friends and family came forward with donations to this fund,” Bill commented. “It means a lot to me to celebrate Rita’s life and legacy in this way.”

The Rita M. Bevevino Endowment for Saint Joseph School will generate a grant annually for use at Saint Joseph School to benefit future generations of students because of the Bevevinos' vision and generosity.

Bevevino Rita Yearbook Photo
Rita teaching her fifth grade students
Rita Bevevino Yearbook 2
Rita with some of her fourth grade students

“It means a lot to me to celebrate Rita’s life and legacy in this way.”
— Bill Bevevino, Donor
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