Darcie Rae Ridgeway, 1977-2013, R.I.P.

I did not know Darcie well, but her older sister is one of my closest friends, and it was through her that over the last two years I received news of Darcie’s battle with breast cancer. First the shocking diagnosis, then the surgery and chemotherapy and radiation and all the hopes that attended each procedure. And then the dreadful news that despite everything the cancer had spread, and then the long decline, and finally, last Monday, her death. 

But her decline was one of physical vitality, not of the spiritual sort. Despite her illness she remained dazzlingly alive to her last breath. And to judge from the crowd at her funeral today, she remains so even now.

Darcie was remembered at the Redeemer Baptist Church in West Los Angeles, where as a child she attended the church school and where, after college, she returned to teach in 2001. Her father has been the pastor there for 35 years. Family and friends filled the pews and jammed the side aisles, overflowing into the foyer and onto the street outside. In the crowd were scores of her former students and their parents, friends from college, church parishioners, and so many others whose lives were touched by this remarkable woman. Everyone who knew her, it seems, loved her.

And in this account, one of many told today, you might begin to know why: Her sister spoke of Darcie’s frequent visits with her oncologist, and of how she worried that dealing with so many people who were so very ill must have taken a toll. As she neared the end that she knew was coming, Darcie vowed she would not add to her doctor’s burdens, that she would try to make each visit a pleasant experience for both of them. Even at the end of her life, she felt sympathy for the doctor who could not save her. A kinder, sweeter soul has never lived.

Darcie leaves her husband, Jason, and their 3-year-old daughter, Lily. If you’re so moved, you can donate to a fund set up for Lily’s education by clicking here.

  1. Barbara Kidder

    Mr. Dunphy:

    What a moving tribute you have composed;  your friend and her family will, undoubtedly, treasure it.

    Thank you for sharing it here and for your example of true friendship.

  2. D.C. McAllister

    What a beautiful smile. Thank you for this tribute. I will be praying for her husband and her daughter. 

  3. Jack Dunphy

    D.C. and Barbara,

    Thank you for your thoughts and your prayers.  I know this was an uncommon type of post here, but I was so moved after attending Darcie’s funeral that I was impelled to write about her.  She was truly that rarest of people.  What a sorrow.

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