Rebecca Lipkin, a former producer for ABC News who helped establish the English-language programming of the al-Jazeera network, died July 19, 2009, in London of inflammatory breast cancer.
Acclaimed journalist Rebecca Lipkin's colleagues and friends have penned glowing tributes about her storied career, consummate professionalism, and supreme news savvy. But it's obvious that she's equally revered for her warmth, inherent goodness, and sense of fun and adventure. Although I've seen splashes of Rebecca's work over the years and know that the accolades heaped upon this extraordinary woman are well deserved, that's not how I know her.
As the camp counselor of this brainy 11 year-old, I saw a thoughtful, clever girl, quick to cuddle and slow to anger. She was an endearing, dimpled, cherubic faced child with a shy, mischievous smile.
During carefree summers at Camp Kewanee in the Catskills, Rebecca Lipkin of Al-Jazeera English and ABC News fame, approached life methodically and purposefully. She studied situations and people, sized them up and displayed judgment and wisdom beyond her years. She was serious yet fun loving; independent-minded, but always in the thick of the action with friends.
Rebecca always had a book in hand, often reading while walking and during a game if not otherwise occupied. Not surprisingly she was our "go-to girl" for Trivia and "Name That Tune," her intellect matched by a big heart and keen insight. Even then, she was a voice of reason and a natural negotiator, often mediating the inevitable spats that arose between bunkmates and frenemies.
Several years ago I learned that Rebecca was working for ABC in London, which coincided with my daughter's studies at Oxford and a family trip to Europe. Coincidentally, Rebecca's mother Gladys was in town, and we lunched with the Lipkin ladies before their departure for Russia on a mother daughter vacation.
Fast-forward a couple of years to the shocking news that Rebecca had been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer. I corresponded with Rebecca periodically for updates on her treatment. She was appreciative of the good wishes but clearly avoided dwelling on her illness.
I watched her poignant personal story on the internet as she wrestled with the physical and emotional effects of a monstrous disease. But Rebecca battled IBC the way she tackled everything – with dignity, courage, and humor, self-deprecatingly referring to herself as "a cancer diva."
In Rebecca, I remember gales of giggles from a precocious child whose insatiable curiosity and spirited sense of wonder about the world undoubtedly set the stage for a brilliant career that took her from Queens to the Catskills and around the globe.
Note: Rebecca Lipkin’s friends have posted more tributes to her on the Web.