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Emotional Farewell for Newport Doctor

Hundreds memorialize Catherine "Kit" Campion-Ritz, who was killed while cycling on Newport Coast Drive in September.

More than 500 people gathered Saturday in an emotional farewell for a Newport Beach doctor who was killed while cycling alongside her husband on Newport Coast Drive.

Family, friends, colleagues and patients of 57-year-old Catherine "Kit" Campion-Ritz filled Mariners Church Community Center in Irvine. Campion-Ritz died Sept. 15 in a hit-and-run collision.

“She was doing one of the things she loved most with the person she loved most,” said her sister, Dina Campion.

Rev. Sheryl Faulk told the gathering, “I hope being here brings strength and comfort for all of you. Love fills the room because of her, and you have the opportunity to remember her gifts and the time you had with her.”

Campion-Ritz was recalled as a beloved wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker and trusted doctor to this writer and 30 years' worth of patients.

“We appreciated her approach to primary care medicine," patient Debra Spindel said. "She supported us medically and emotionally. You could count on her to put things in perspective. She was organized and always ran on time. We are all grateful to have had her as our family doctor.”

Family members said her love and dedication to medicine was a major part of who she was.

“She had drive and ambition, a type A personality who had everything figured out," Dina Campion said. "Ever since high school biology, she wanted to be a doctor.”

Along with medicine, one of her greatest pleasures was cycling.

“Kit had tenacity, fitness and a competitive drive. In fact, she was the only woman with this all-male group every weekend,” said Jeff La Val, a friend and fellow cyclist.

La Val said it was like riding with a guardian angel because Campion-Ritz often gave aid not only to fellow cyclists but to baby ducks, owls, lost dogs and everything in-between.

Diane Laird of Greater Newport Physicians described Campion-Rtiz as a real-life Marcus Welby. Laird attributed many firsts in the medical field to Campion-Ritz and said she broke the glass ceiling for women.

“She had a down-to-earth nature, calm cool style and selflessness. We will hear her voice resonate and guide us for many years to come,” Laird said. “We have not only lost a great physician, but it feels like we have lost a member of our family."

Dr. William Somers, a longtime friend whose sister roomed with Campion-Ritz in college, said: “She was a role model and approachable to other physicians. We will miss her dearly and are so blessed to have had her for the last 30 years.”

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