Yes, it’s a new year. There are bills to be paid, contracts to complete, but first the brain needs to be cleared out.  A new year’s resolution?  Perhaps!

On Sunday I attended a memorial service for a colleague whom I have know for nearly 30 years–hard to believe all by itself!  Berda Rittenhouse was my “roomie,” which is the way I’ve lately described her.  First at 109 West State Street when the NJ State Council on the Arts was located there–I roomed with Berda and Cecily Laidman who was the Crafts Coordinator, a position long gone.  Berda was the Arts in Education Coordinator and an inspiration.  Lively, entertaining, madly disorganized, but an overachiever who defined the phrase “mover and shaker.” Berda brought people together all in the name of arts education, and an amazing group of people were in her circle–from Martha Clarke to Stephen Dunn to Lenwood Sloan to Horacee Arnold to Jacob Landau to Carolyn Dorfman to numerous other artists I can’t remember (anyone is welcome to help me remember), all involved in the Council’s Artist Teacher Institute.

This blog post could go on forever citing Berda’s contributions and accomplishments.  Apparently she was an actress (I had no clue!), but most of all she will be remembered for her enthusiasm, joyful approach to life and work, and for her generous spirit.  I will miss her phone calls that always began, “Hi, dear!” and for her companionship on our advocacy visits to Washington, DC.  Her spirit will live on through her many contributions to life and through the many relationships and friendships she nurtured lovingly throughout her life.

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