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Rebecca P. Thompson

Female 1949 - 2009  (60 years)

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  • Name Rebecca P. Thompson 
    Nickname Becca 
    Born 29 Jan 1949  [1
    Gender Female 
    Died 8 May 2009 
    • Rebecca Ritchie, general counsel of Univera Healthcare in Buffalo, knows how a diagnosis of breast cancer can change lives. She's the tenth member of her family to personally deal with the disease. She lost her mother and two sisters to breast cancer.
      So I write a lot about the breast cancer experience, Ritchie admitted as she discussed her success as a playwright. The Shiva Queen is based in large part on my sister Susan's death and what her husband was going through. The disease doesn't just affect the one diagnosed. It affects all relationships.
      She added that cancer survivors respond positively to the dark humor in her plays.
      As a survivor, I use humor both to make the cancer experience accessible and to satisfy my own need to control a situation that is largely out of my control, she said.
      Ritchie finds the creative endeavor of writing a source of pure pleasure.
      The ability to create a central character who changes for the better in the course of confronting her mortality is transformative - for the playwright and the character. It offers the promise of hope.
      A National Reputation
      Twelve of Ritchie's plays have been produced on stages across the United States. The Shiva Queen and A Personal Exchange were produced in Western New York, New York City, and Bloomfield, Mich. Her comedy/ drama, The Crustacean Waltz, was a co-winner of the 1998 Helen Mintz Award and also won an Artie Award as the outstanding new play of the 1998-99 Western New York season.
      Her comedy, Buying a Brassiere, provides insight into the emotions of a recent breast cancer survivor shopping for her first post- mastectomy brassiere. It had a workshop production at Polaris North in New York City, premiered at The Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo and was produced in Seattle by a women's theater group.
      My plays have been or soon will be produced in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Florida and Massachusetts, Ritchie revealed. Of course most of them have made at least one appearance in Buffalo - at the Buffalo Ensemble Theater, the Alleyway Theatre, the Franklin Street Theater and Daemon College Little Theater.
      Four of her plays have been produced in the workshop atmosphere at Polaris North. Her one-act comedy, In The Beginning, was produced at the 29th Street Theater in New York City, and has been included in the American Literature syllabus at the University of Oviedo in Spain. It was also published in Facing Forward, an anthology of one act plays and monologues by women.
      Ritchie credits much of her playwriting success to her teacher and mentor Emanuel Fried.
      In 1989 I took Manny's Western New York Playwrights Workshop, she said. I kept retaking the workshop for about 4.5 years, working with the feedback and learning more and more about a well-made play.
      Born In Baltimore
      Ritchie grew up in Baltimore, one of three daughters of a Russian immigrant. She attended Goucher College, with a dual major in English and education.
      I was prepared to teach and had an offer at a prestigious high school, Ritchie said. But I also had an opportunity to work in public relations at the Maryland Governor's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, and it offered better pay.
      Within a few months Ritchie was running the public relations office and observed that the young attorneys (all male) who were working there made nearly three times her salary. That's when she decided that law school would be her next step.
      From 1971 to 1974, Ritchie attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was a founder of The Law School Forum. Asked what she particularly liked about law school, Ritchie was quick to say: Stafford D. Ritchie II - a law school classmate.
      After finishing law school, Ritchie went to work for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in Washington and married her law school sweetheart.
      I worked for Allie Latimer who was a terrific mentor in both career and personal matters, Ritchie said. She was innovative, concerned and supportive.
      Ritchie had her first child (Stafford Duff Ritchie III) while working at the GSA, where she first served as assistant counsel for the National Archives, working on the Nixon Papers litigation, and later as Freedom of Information counsel until she became pregnant with her second child.
      Back To Buffalo
      Ritchie's husband is a Buffalo native and in 1981 decided it was time to return to the family business as vice president and general counsel. The family business was Cavages Records, founded by her father-in-law Carl Cavage, with 28 stores between Buffalo and Syracuse. (With major changes in retail, many Cavages stores were closed or sold, and Ritchie's husband went into private practice in 1994.)
      With the move to Buffalo, Ritchie focused on her family, giving birth to another son (Thompson Cavage Ritchie) in 1982 and a daughter (Glynis Ann Ritchie) in 1984.
      Ritchie's mother-in-law had been a staff writer for the Buffalo News women's pages and suggested that Ritchie get in touch with her former editor.
      I sent in a sample story and when the envelope came back, I just assumed it was a rejection and I didn't even open it, said Ritchie. However, it turned out to be a request to do an article on unique houses, and that was my break to become a stringer for the Buffalo News.
      In addition to writing for the local newspaper, Ritchie earned bylines in the Washington Post, Arts and Antiques Weekly, Childbirth Educator and other niche publications.
      For seven years I stayed home and wrote and I wasn't really looking for work but a friend told me that they needed a writer at a local health maintenance organization, she explained. I came in for three interviews. I really liked the company but I wasn't ready for a full time job so I asked them to let me know if a different opportunity came along.
      The general counsel immediately offered her a part-time counsel position at Univera Healthcare (then Health Care Plan.) She went back to work in September 1988. As her children grew, her work schedule increased and she went full time in 1994.
      Other Stage Productions
      It was during those early days at Univera Healthcare that Ritchie started attending Fried's playwright's workshop. An Unorthodox Arrangement won Ritchie her first Artie. Other stage works include the monologue, Picking Up His Socks, and the historical play, The Gratz Delusion, about a Jewish American feminist.
      Rachel Calof is a one act play based on a true story of an 18- year-old mail-order bride who came from Russia in 1894. Taking place on the North Dakota plains, this production is about the power of ritual and the promise of independence.
      Currently, Ritchie is working on a one act play appropriate for a 90-year-old lead.
      Manny Fried still acts, but there aren't a lot of parts for a man in his 90s, Ritchie said. So he commissioned me to write something for him and his acting partner, Rosalind Cramer.
      Excerpts from Ritchie's plays have appeared in numerous publications, including Best Stage Scenes of 1997; Best Stage Monologues for Men of 1998; and Best Women's Stage Monologues of 1998.
      It's rather ironic, she added, in my law career, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. In my playwriting, it is critical to tell the absolute truth about everything that touches the human condition.
    Person ID I2700  Himelfarb Family Tree
    Last Modified 7 Jun 2009 

    Father Morris Thompson,   b. 1 Nov 1909, Minsk, Russia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Aug 1978  (Age 68 years) 
    Mother Anna Himmelfarb,   b. Maryland, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 4 Sep 1981 
    Family ID F991  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Stafford Duff Ritchie, Jr. 
     1. Stafford Ritchie, III
     2. Thompson Cavage Ritchie
     3. Glynis Ann Ritchie
    Last Modified 29 May 2024 
    Family ID F1082  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S3] Anybirthday.com.