Rennie Weber: A Few Parting Words
BY FRANK MURPHY
Turtle Bay has lost one of its most colorful and devoted residents:
Rennie C. Weber, whose lively articles have often graced these pages.
I met Rennie some years ago when I became editor of this newsletter.
I soon discovered that she was the embodiment of the never-miss-a-deadline,
always-get-the-goods reporter who is every editor's dream. We cooked
up an events column for her called "The Turtle at Night."
Even when she had to hobble about on a crutch, Rennie got her story,
and she got it right. When, a few years ago, she suffered the unexpected
recurrence of breast cancer, she refused to let the renewed battle
cramp her style.
Rennie was tough, and if you weren't on her side of the issues,
you might use a stronger word than tough. She stoutly defended what
she believed in, and she believed in a lot of things: generosity,
fair play, multiculturalism, decency, loyalty, and the Democratic
Party. She relished rich food, bright colors, high fashion, magazine
publishing, Turtle Bay, handmade jewelry, a good glass of wine,
her baby great-niece's every utterance, the sight of a handsome
man, and all things Italian.
Rennie's career was devoted to the field of magazine publishing.
She was Special Promotions Manager at Woman's Day and Time magazines,
and a creative director at Look magazine.
Her years-long battle with cancer was an epic of gritty courage
and uncomplaining tolerance of lost hair, agonizing side effects,
encroaching frailty, new drugs that didn't work, diminishing hopes.
Rennie knew that she was dying, and she spoke of that certainty
with a candor and a lack of self-pity that were heart-rending. As
the cancer inexorably nibbled away at her insides, she kept on with
her life. In July, her cherished friend Richard di Fatta and I took
her to dinner at Cafe de Paris for her birthday. On Richard's arm,
it took her 30 minutes to negotiate the five or so blocks, and she
arrived exhausted and grim. We sat outside to enjoy the warm spring
evening, and the occasion revived her. For 90 minutes or so, she
was the old Rennie again - spirited, curious, full of beans. She
laughed. she gossiped. She railed. She cleaned her plate. And mercifully,
she found no fault with the service!
Two weeks later, she called to report that she was being taken
by ambulance to Beth Israel. We all sensed that this was the end
of the road. When I visited her, she murmured something so low that
I couldn't understand. I asked her to repeat it and leaned in close.
"What's going on at the office?" she asked, so weak that
her lips barely moved. Those were among her last words to me, and
they reflected Rennie's lifelong style: even as death reached out
to claim her, she showed interest in the other guy's life.
The morning I attended Rennie's quiet funeral in Larchmont, I
watched her casket being solemnly rolled down the aisle of the church
and listened to the priest intone pietisms about her eternal spirit,
and I imagined Rennie's sharp, impatient voice: "Oh Please!
Give me a break! Cut to the chase!" Somehow that remembered
voice made the event bearable.
When I got back home, I let myself call Rennie's number one last
time: "Hi, this is Rennie. I can't talk to you right now, but
if you'll leave me your number, I'll get back to you as soon as
I can." This was the woman who embraced her neighborhood as
passionately as a lover, the friend who saw me through my own hard
times with reassurance and humor. This exasperating, colorful, complicated,
big-hearted lady is Turtle Bay's loss - and mine. This was my friend,
and I loved her. If you didn't know her, you missed someone special.
Requiescat in pace.
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Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community
224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
Fax (212) 751-4941