The daughter of Robert Franklin Knighten and Cora Esther (Miller) Knighten, Mary was born the eighth of eleven children in Pawhuska, Osage County, OK, on May 29, 1927.
During the Great Depression, to better their family situation, her family moved from Oklahoma to Arizona, where the family ran a small dairy farm, near Peoria, AZ, and where Mary also attended grammar school. Her mother, Esther, thought they could again better themselves, so the family ran a grocery store. Along with her two older brothers, Mary also briefly attended Chilocco Indian boarding school back in Oklahoma, until WWII broke out and her brother Woodie quit school to join the Marines. During the war, the family moved to Los Angeles, where her father worked for the Union Pacific railroad and Mary worked along her sister, Coralee, at a Defense Department airplane factory.
After the war and to be closer to extended family, her father moved the family back east to Clinton, Arkansas, where in May 1945, Mary graduated from Clinton State Vocational Training School. Mary met and married Kenneth Lea in Clinton in 1947. When the marriage ended ten years later, Mary moved to Washington where her older sister Dorothy lived and where Mary enrolled in nursing school, graduating with an LPN degree. While attending nursing school in Mt. Vernon, WA, she met and married Leif (Lee) Rinda. Her marriage to Lee entailed many moves throughout the country, including Phoenix and Kingman, Arizona; Mt. Vernon, Clear Lake, Sedro Wooley and Centrailia, WA.
Then in 1968 and devastated by another failed marriage, Mary fully entrusted her life to Jesus Christ and soon returned to Flagstaff, Arizona, where she met and eventually married her spiritual soul mate, William (Bill) Charles Reichstadt in 1975. They made frequent moves, including to Peoria and Phoenix, AZ; Oklahoma City and Moore, OK; Luck, Wisconsin and finally, Miami, OK. On all his birthday and anniversary cards to Mary, Bill always signed his trademark signature: “Your loving Willy Chuck.”
After 44 years of marriage and her beloved Bill’s passing in 2018, Mary moved to Winlock, WA, where she was lovingly cared for by her nephew and niece, Chuck and Cindy Knighten, until, surrounded by the love of family, both near and afar, she passed into the loving arms of Jesus and was reunited with her beloved Bill and family on October 15, 2019.
Mary was of Miami, Cherokee and Peoria Native American descent and was an enrolled member of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. While Mary did not have any children of her own, she was dearly loved by her many nieces, nephews and Sunday School children that she considered her “OWN”.
Having deeply discovered God’s amazing love, forgiveness and grace, Mary was a passionate witness of God’s free gift of eternal life for all through trusting Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice for one’s sins, and she loved her church – Grace Church in Miami.
Mary was preceded in death by her father Robert, Her mother, Esther, and her siblings, Frank, Dorothy, Jess (Woodie), Ralph, Geraldine, Nancy, Coralee, Anna, Robert and her loving husband of 44 years, Bill. Mary is survived by her sister, Jeanne Cross, of Fayetteville, AR, her special “daughter”, Kay Tanner, of Miami, OK, and many more adoring nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.
A celebration of life service is planned for Monday, November 4 at 10am at Grace Church in Miami, OK.