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Alice Elizabeth 'Betty' Cavage, award-winning features writer

Nov. 6, 1925 - June 7, 2017

Betty Ritchie was a young, widowed mother of five school-age children when she returned to the workforce full-time in 1965.

Impressed by her occasional freelance articles for the newspaper, Buffalo News Editor Murray B. Light hired her as a staff reporter for the features and women's pages in the paper.

She went on to win several American Newspaper Guild "Page One" and state awards for her writing, both under her original byline and the new one she adopted, Betty Cavage, after she married Carl C. Cavage, the owner of the Cavages Records chain, in 1967.

Mrs. Cavage died June 7 in Westview Nursing Care & Rehabilitation in Dayville, Conn. She was 91.

"The one story she wrote that I remember was a story on how to cook a whole meal on a (car) engine," recalled her son, Stafford D. Ritchie II.

"It involved wrapping food in tin foil and putting it on top of the engine, and at the end of the (road) trip, it was cooked and ready to eat," he added.

Mrs. Cavage also was one of the first local reporters to interview O.J. Simpson for The Buffalo News when the young running back and Heisman Trophy winner was drafted to play for the Bills in 1969.

In the early 1970s, Mrs. Cavage left The News to join her husband's business as vice president of human resources at Cavages which, at its peak, operated about 30 stores in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester and Syracuse. In addition to selling recorded music, the chain also operated a number of Hallmark cards and kitchenware stores. Cavages closed in 1994.

Mrs. Cavage also was the author of a cookbook, published in 1988, titled "The Elegant Onion – The Art of Allium Cookery."

Mrs. Cavage was born Alice Elizabeth Smith in England, and emigrated to Western New York with her family in the early 1930s. During the Great Depression, she and her family lived in a tent in Hyde Park, Niagara Falls. Her father, Francis, went on to become chief chemist at Union Carbide Corp. in Niagara Falls.

Mrs. Cavage was 1943 graduate of Kenmore High School. In 1944, she was hired as an administrative assistant at the Cornell Aeronautical plant in Cheektowaga. She married her first husband, Stafford D. Ritchie, in 1946. He died in 1964.

Carl C. "Charlie" Cavage, her second husband, died in 2005.

She is survived by three sons, Stafford D. Ritchie II, Mark Ritchie and Scott Ritchie; two daughters, Sheila Becks and Maureen Nicholson; 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private.

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