RIP, Mary Kaye Ritz

@postaday 323; #postaday2011.

This morning a dear, young friend of ours died. Mary Kaye Ritz and I met when she and her husband, Steven Downes, joined The Honolulu Advertiser in the 1990s. She came on as an assistant features editor, Steven joined us as a page designer. I was young, naive and fresh faced, and they were both so gracious about my eagerness to be a great reporter.

I say she died young, somewhere in the foggy zone between 50 and 60 (where I, too, reside), because she lived life so positively. A perpetual smile pulled at the corners of her mouth and her face remains that way in the memories of her family and friends. It is the eye twinkle, the lip twitch, the rascally temperament that I’ll remember so much. Mary Kaye was also accepting, generous, and probably had the biggest bosoms ever because they had to contain a heart that was larger than life itself.

On her Facebook page, Mary Kaye's caption for this one was, "Borrowing babies...but giving them back." Yup.

Have you ever been hugged by Mary Kaye? She had the softest, sweetest embrace. When Sophie was just three months old, we took her to The Advertiser holiday party at Aloha Tower Marketplace. Mary Kaye made a beeline for Sophie, took her in her arms, and Sophie made herself at home, falling asleep on this soft ledge of love. It was a beautiful sight, and you knew Mary Kaye was beside herself, holding our little like that.

As we get older, our friends die around us. Or we die. It’s something life prepares us for. However, I feel like we’re younger, those of us in our 50s, 60s, and 70s, younger than our parents and our grands. I feel like it’s too early for our friends to be snatched away, stolen by maladies such as metastatic cancers, precarious mountain peaks, rogue waves, and blatant traffic violations. We want to shake our fist at fate and demand restoration, or at least an apology.

I want to see my friends again, those who are dying too soon. And I want the friends who are alive  to know how much I care about them, how much I love them. Life is fleeting, too short to spend on misery. Let love rule, live life without regrets.

By lavagal

Hawaii Kai wife and mom. Melanoma Stage 3a Cancer survivor. English Language Arts teacher, English Learners Coordinator, and Paraprofessional Tutor. Super sub teacher. Dormant triathlete. Road cyclist and Masters swimmer. Gardener. Mrs. Fixit. Random dancer. Music Curator. A teenager trapped in an aging body. Did you know 60 is the new 40? It is.


  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful words about Mary Kaye. I can still hear her beautiful, sunny voice, “Hiya Darling!” Always happy, perpetually optimisitc. I will miss her immensely.

  2. Mary Kaye and I were writing buddies, got to know each other only a few months ago. She was working on a novel. It was going to be good. I wish I’d known her before the cancer, before her whole life had to be devoted to the fight. She was fiesty. She was determined. Brave. A fighter, willing to go through whatever it took to chance getting well, and believe me, she went through a lot. I don’t think that she lost her fight so much as she just wore out. I was looking forward to getting to know her better, but the friendship is what it was as of Saturday, which was pretty good. I’ll miss her.

  3. Beautiful Tribute! You are a wonderful writer and person. Your pieces from your heart are the best!

  4. I had to wait a while before I could bring myself to read this. I miss my friend Mary Kay. I was blessed to know her.

  5. Hi, I came across an article of Marys where she mentioned a man Carey Higaki, I tried to email her from the link she had in the article but the email was sent back due to being non existent, then I googled her name and found this..I am sorry to hear she has passed. I am sure she will be in a much better place. Would you mind emailing me if you know anything about this man Carey Higaki? I was a victim of his and Officer De Jesus’s hate crime , because I am white. I was put in jail and charged with assualt. And Carey is still out free with no repercussions. I would like to try to bring justice to myself. Thank you. Thomas

  6. Sorry. She died quite a few years ago and had not been writing for a long time when she died. I do not know who it is you are referring.

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