Onie Oneta Lively, known to family and friends as Nita, died peacefully at home in El
To send flowers in memory of Onie Oneta "Nita" Lively, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
Cajon on Thursday, February 7, 2019. She is survived by her sons John and Tom,
and her four grandchildren Annabelle, Riley, Nicole, and Ryan.
Nita was born in Columbia, Caldwell Parish, Louisiana, on September 16, 1925 to
father William Riley Fisher and mother Willie Fisher Bayles. She had a sister Bonita
Fisher. Growing up on the family farm in the Louisiana bayou instilled in Nita the
strength that would last her the rest of her life. Though, one of her pleasures was to
sneak away to the crook of a tree with just herself and a good book. A lifelong
reader, she would later in life make a ritual of packaging and sending her finished
volumes back to a nursing home in Columbia so that others could enjoy them. Nita
was an avid reader and bright student and was nominated to be salutatorian of her
While working in a local diner in her teens, she noticed a customer had left his
change on the table. She ran after him in the street and returned the money to the
bemused man who explained to her that she had just received her first tip. Years
later, on January 13, 1945, the two began a marriage that lasted until Riley’s passing
The newlyweds moved to Alameda, CA where Riley was stationed in the Navy, and
had their first son, Riley Thompson Lively. The next naval assignment was in
Honolulu, Hawaii, where Nita made a lucrative side-business in photography,
snapping photos with her Speedgraphic camera at the Officer’s Club on base, even once taking a picture of Bob Hope. She and Riley would develop the pictures at home overnight and Nita could sell them the next day.
When Tom was still a young boy, the family moved to San Diego, California where
Riley finished out his military service. It was here they would live the rest of their
While building an addition to their home to accommodate the arrival of Joyce, Riley
found his calling in construction work, and would go on to found a successful
business in property development. Nita was his partner in both business as well as
life, and gave him his most trusted counsel. She would remark later in life, with a
mischievous grin, that she knew to offer him the illusion that he had made up his
As they garnered financial success the family moved farther east in San Diego where
John was born, eventually building a beautiful home in El Cajon where they would
live for over forty years. Nita took great pride in her homemaking and visitors and
family alike knew it as a refuge and a place of beauty. Her holiday meals were
legendary to those that attended.
Nita was involved in the community and contributed to charities too numerous to
list. She led fundraising drives for Rady Children’s Hospital for many years, and was
a lifelong member of the Auxiliary at Grossmont Hospital. Nita loved to entertain at
her home. She was an expert bridge player and kept a regular game with friends for
over 50 years. She and her friends formed a lunch group they called the BG’s, for
‘birthday girls’. Instead of celebrating each other’s birthdays they would meet once a month just to socialize. Nita also took on the role of fisherman’s wife, making herself an integral part of her husband’s passionate hobby. Together they traveled
from Cabo San Lucas to Alaska, both catching the fish that Nita would be able to prepare for months to come at the dinner table.
Never feeling the need to make herself the center of attention, she was nonetheless
unforgettable. Anyone that knew Nita took notice of her poise, intelligence, charm,
her generosity, and of course her beauty and sense of style. Ever a Southern Lady,
Nita was seldom to be seen not in a pressed suit and pearls.
Nita lost the love of her life in 2010 when Riley died. Tragically a year after Riley’s
passing Nita lost her daughter Joyce to cancer in 2011. Until the end of her life Nita
took her greatest joy in being a support to others. Her memory will be forever
cherished in the hearts of all of those whose lives she touched.
Services will be held on Wednesday February 13 th at 11 A.M. at Foothills Methodist
Church, 4031 Avocado Blvd, La Mesa, CA 91941. Burial services to follow at Singing Hills Memorial Park.