Christine “Tina” Anne Rivers, 65, yielded her spirit to the heavens on August 28, 2018, at her home in Wilson, while surrounded and cared for by her husband, children and grandchildren.
Born to Fred and Rita Woodward on January 24, 1953, in Coloma, Mich., Tina spent her early years among the cherry, apple and peach orchards, playing cowboys and Indians with her siblings and lifelong best friend, Claudia, narrowly avoiding brush-ins with flying arrows and ropes.
As a junior in high school, she moved to Winona, where she attended Winona Senior High School. She met her husband, Jerry Rivers, and fell in love with his fun-loving, respectful and patient ways. They married on January 13, 1973, and began a journey that included years of farming, parenting and traveling together. With the marriage, Barbara and Reinhard Rivers and their children, Mike, Don, Pat, Mary, Nancy and Kenny, welcomed her in as part of their family and she cherished the time she spent with them. Always a lover of the John Deere 4020, Tina spent countless peaceful hours raking hay and watching the hawks fly overhead, collecting the feathers that drifted down to her. Her garden became a showpiece for the rocks she collected on her travels and the flowers that she cultivated.
Diagnosed with stage-four cancer five years ago, Tina chose to fight the disease with everything she had, while continuing to work throughout her chemo treatments with the loving support of her friends and co-workers. She never gave up hope and faith. She continues to fight cancer after death by the donation of her body to research.
Tina is survived by her husband, Jerry; sons, Nate and Ryan; daughter, Mindy; and the children she gained and loved like her own through marriage, Rachel, Sarah and Josh. Tina found ways to build a unique and meaningful relationship with each of her 10 grandchildren — Owen, Jordan, Elan, Ettalia, Luke, Annabelle, Aiden, Jayden, Olivia and Kinsley — by seeing who they were and what moved their hearts. Through her years of work with the Winona School District, she adopted many more children into her heart and passionately strove to find ways to lift their minds and spirits. Tina has five brothers, Tim (Victoria) Woodward, Dave (Dawn) Woodward, Fred (Lyn) Woodward, John (D’Ann) Woodward and Paul (Yvonne) Woodward; and two sisters, Mary Beth (Dave) Bradbury and Caroline Woodward. Tina gained another mother and best friend, Betsey Woodward, through her dad’s second marriage. She loved Betsey’s sons, Rick, Curt and Corey, like brothers. Tina was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Fred.
A memorial for Tina will be held on September 16, 2018, at the Riverport Inn and Suites Ballroom. Wake will be from 1-4 p.m., with a memorial service starting at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, there is a Tina Rivers Memorial Fund to help causes for which she cared.