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Rebecca Sue Palasits
Rebecca Sue Palasits (Baltimore Sun)

Rebecca Sue Palasits, an active community volunteer who served with the Peace Corps and taught school, died May 2 of breast cancer at her Columbia home. She was 59.

The daughter of Willis Shaner, a retired Colorado State University professor, and Victoria Shaner, a homemaker, the former Rebecca Sue Shaner was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, and raised in Cambridge, Mass., Los Altos, Calif., New York City, Spain and Ethiopia.

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After graduating from Fort Collins High School in 1974, she earned a bachelor's degree in 1978 from Colorado State University.

While serving in the Peace Corps from 1978 to 1982 in Lesotho in southern Africa, she met and fell in love with David R. Palasits, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer. The couple married in 1986.

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They later moved to New York City, where Mrs. Palasits earned a master's degree in 1988 in mathematics from Columbia University's Teachers College. She taught math at A. Phillip Randolph High School from 1986 to 1988.

While her husband worked for Catholic Relief Services, Mrs. Palasits accompanied him to Ethiopia and later Eritrea, where they lived from 1993 to 1995, until moving to Columbia.

Mrs. Palasits was active in Columbia with the Neighborhood Swim Team, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Appalachian Service Project and the PTA.

She was a communicant and a Eucharistic minister at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

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She was a talented potter, family members said.

"To all those privileged to have loved and known her, Becky was an unassuming testimony to faith," said her husband, who is information technology manager for Catholic Relief Services.

"She was courageous in fighting without complaint a 10-year battle with breast cancer," he said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Wilde Lake Interfaith Center, 10431 Twin Rivers Road, Columbia.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Palasits is survived by two sons, John C. Palasits and Michael D. Palasits, both of Columbia; a daughter, Teresa C. Palasits of Newark, N.J.; her parents, of Fort Collins; two brothers, Tim Shaner of Eugene, Ore., and Michael Shaner of La Quinta, Calif.; and many nieces and nephews.

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