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Rita Achin Gibson

Doctor of optometry, teacher

Rita Gibson. (Courtesy photo)

Dr. Rita Achin Gibson, age 71, of Harvard, died of cancer on Friday, Feb. 5, 2021.

Born in Lowell on June 17, 1949, Rita was the oldest of three children of Roland Achin and Marga (Redwitz) Achin. She attended grade school at Notre Dame Academy in Tyngsboro, then went on to high school at Abbot Academy, Andover, from which she graduated in 1967. She then attended Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, where she studied German and art, and participated in the college’s junior year abroad program at the University of Vienna, Austria. She graduated from Marymount in 1971 with a bachelor’s degree in German.

Following her undergraduate education, Rita chose to pursue a master’s degree in special education for the blind and visually impaired at Boston College. She then spent several years as an itinerant teacher in Massachusetts for blind and visually impaired children and teens.

Rita’s interest in eye research extended beyond the blind and visually impaired; during the early 1990s she obtained a doctorate in optometry from the New England School of Optometry. After graduation she practiced optometry at various Massachusetts stores within malls. She retired in 2013.

Rita’s favorite pastimes included eating out at international restaurants, reading health publications, exercising at Zamba in Boxborough, walking her dogs to the General Store, working out at Koko FitClub of Harvard, and spending time with her husband and friends. She and her husband, Gordon, whom she married in 1985, also enjoyed week-long vacations in the Florida Keys. Some of Rita’s favorite places were Vienna, Key West, Ogunquit, and home.

In a final conversation with family and friends, Rita said: “It was a lucky life! See you all over the rainbow for a cocktail someday.”

Rita is survived by two brothers: Carl Achin of Hampton, New Hampshire, and Henry Achin of Lowell; her loving husband and great companion, Gordon Seale Gibson; three stepdaughters: Grace, Karin, and Lara; four step-grandchildren; Harry the cat; plus many nephews and nieces.

At Rita’s request, her remains will be donated to science. A private family gathering has been held.

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