Dena L. Raitzyk, 46


Graphic artist

May 21, 2007

Dena Love Raitzyk, a commercial artist in Randallstown, died of lung cancer Saturday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. She was 46.

Dena Love was born and raised in the Baltimore area and graduated from Randallstown High School in 1979. She then attended the Maryland Institute College of Art, studying graphic arts.

While at MICA she met Neil Raitzyk, and the couple married June 27, 1982.

Mrs. Raitzyk left school to work in Baltimore for Williams & Wilkins, a Philadelphia-based publisher of specialized media for the health professions.

On May 1, 1987, five months after the birth of her son, Jared, Mrs. Raitzyk's husband, who was 29, died tragically at a mini-storage facility he managed in Woodlawn.

Mrs. Raitzyk, who had left her job to raise her son, spent the rest of her life devoting herself to his care. She also continued her art.

"She did lots of painting," said Jennifer Taylor, a longtime friend from East Hampton, N.Y. "She did oils; she did watercolors. ... She did everything. ... She did it for herself, and pretty much everybody who knew her had something she created."

She eventually returned to school, and in 2000 graduated from Villa Julie College with a bachelor's degree in graphic design.

Mrs. Raitzyk also became involved with an Internet-based charity Ms. Taylor founded in 1999, called Gusto Angels. The group organizes donations of supplies or services for worthy causes, and makes them available through Internet communications.

One of the projects called for blankets and backpacks for a Minneapolis school for homeless kids. Mrs. Raitzyk produced and hand-painted one of 43 quilts gathered by the online group.

Even after her diagnosis, Ms. Taylor said, Mrs. Raitzyk continued her work with the group and her devotion to her son, helping to nurse him through a serious illness even as she was undergoing chemotherapy.

"Dena always maintained a positive attitude, and even showed gratitude for her experiences and the lessons learned along the way," Ms. Taylor said. "She tried to always find the positive in every person and every situation."

Services will be at noon today at the Sol Levinson and Brothers Funeral Home, 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

Mrs. Raitzyk is survived by her son, Jared Raitzyk of Westminster; her parents, Joseph and Janet Love of Westminster; a brother, Larry Love of Owings Mills; a sister, Linda Marks of Columbia; and a special friend, Jon Riggle of Towson.

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