Beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 22, some of Rita’s friends and neighbors gathered in David Francis Hall at the Monroe Institute to celebrate her life — not least by telling stories. As usual I had my camera in my pocket, but it never seemed appropriate to take photos of the room or the participants beforehand, and, I admit, afterward I entirely forgot. There weren’t a tremendous lot of people there — maybe 50 — mostly I imagine because few of her extended network of friends, former students, fellow TMI participants, and former colleagues were able to attend on such short notice, and on the day before Easter. But I noticed that pretty nearly everybody from the New Land (the residential community surrounding the Institute) was there, which didn’t surprise me.
In preparation, her daughters Laurie and Lesley went through her collection of photos and selected a great number of them, and asked me to put them onto display boards so that those who came to the ceremony could see the scope and breadth, not merely the length, of her life. This is what the four panels looked like in one wide shot. Beneath, a shot of the first two panels, then the final two, more or less in chronological order.
It took a while to arrange and glue that many photos! As I did so, I realized that most of the photos showed versions of Rita unknown to me. She was, among other things, a distinguished professor of criminal justice, the inventor of the I-Level system of classifying juvenile offenders, a non-governmental observer of the United Nations, and a member of the Presidential Commission on Violence.
Then, of course, came the years with The Monroe Institute, after her Gateway had turned her life and her self-definition upside down.
A remarkable life, filled with memorable events, significant achievement, and close and enduring friendships.