In Memory of





Obituary for Rita Cenovia Cummins (Padilla)

Rita Cummins, a prominent and much beloved singer, and teacher of singing in the Roanoke Valley, has died at age 89 on Friday, 17 February 2023. During her Roanoke teaching years she taught students at Roanoke College, Hollins University, and Lynchburg’s Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.


Rita, a native of San German, Puerto Rico, was awarded a scholarship to Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1956-57 Rita was soloist with Westminster Choir on a five-month, U.S. State Department sponsored World Tour of 21 countries, where she sang for heads of state during the Eisenhower presidency. While enrolled at Westminster in Princeton, she also sang a number of concerts with Westminster Choir and the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall under such conductors as Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, and Guido Cantelli.


While a student at Westminster Rita met fellow-student, Richard Cummins, who became her husband in 1958. A few years later Rita and Richard became the parents of Stephanie, a cellist currently living in London and her sister, Cenovia, a violinist who is currently concert master of three New York City orchestras.


A celebration of Rita’s life will be held at a future date to be announced. Many people loved this special person, but none more than her two wonderful daughters and her beloved husband of 64 years. Arrangements handled by Oakey’s South Chapel.