Dorothy Ritz, whose syndicated column, The Home Line, gave advice on the fine art of maintaining a well run home, died yesterday of an apparent heart attack at her New York City apartment. She was 69.
For nearly a decade, The Home Line explained the how-to's of housekeeping: How to fit a faucet, remove a spot, corn your own beef and grow your own plants, Mrs. Ritz told you how to do it yourself, and thus get more out of it.
"She made a science out of keeping a home," said her son. Stephen D. Isaacs, director of The Washington Post-Las Angeles Times News Service, himself somewhat amazed as he went through the thousands and thousands of letters requesting advice that were piled around her New York apartment.
The column, syndicated to about 50 newspapers, will now be written by her dauhter, Roberta Mattews, a free-lance writer.
The column was something of a natural for Miss Ritz, friends and family members say. The wife of Norman Isaacs, former executive editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, Miss Ritz became an expert at home relocation and the social graces.
"She began to get dissatisfied with just being a great cook and party giver," her daughter said. "But she had a fantastic memory for details about housekeeping and gardening. She figured she could write a column better than the ones she was reading, and sure enough, she did."
The first cousin of Bob Dylan ("Steve's kids get a kick out of that," Mrs. Mathew said), Miss Ritz was born in Hibbing Minn. She moved to Milwaukee in the early 1930s where she met Isaacs, then a newspaper reporter. The two eloped, and to mark the occassion, Issacs' colleagues had the front pape of a mock newspaper read the following day that the reporter had kidnaped a bride.
As Isaacs moved from newspapers in Wisconsin, Indiana, St. Louis and eventually to Louisville, Miss Ritz became involved in numerous civic organizations, such as the Girl Scouts and the League of Women Voters.
"She was exceptionally generous and had depth in her feelings about friends," Mrs. Mathews said. "She couldn't give enough. She gave time and attention whenever needed."
Lately, writing had become a preoccupation, her son said. When Miss Ritz visited her grandchildren in Washington, she spent much of the time making telephone calls to various govrenment agencies for information for her column.
"She was having a good time and it took her through various illnesses," Mrs. Mathews said.
Miss Ritz had suffered cancer twice. She later broke her foot. "She would take her typewriter to the hospital with her," Mrs. Mathews said "Always typing."
"She was a tough-minded and gutsy woman," her son said. "She went through more pain in the last 10 years than most people know about. Most people don't start a career after 50. She always had this column to turn to when the going was tough."
Miss Ritz did not work Friday. She had flu. At 12:20 a.m. Saturday, she died.
"She loved (New York) city," her son said. "Here, she ould be totally independent without a car, unlike the suburban housewife style. There was magic to the city, and she like being here."