Obituary: Shirley Rickards Wilber

Shirley Rickards Wilber passed away on July 22, 2012 at Glen Ridge Nursing Care Center in Medford, Mass.

Born in Kutztown in 1926, Ricky studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and toured with regional theatre companies. She played Emily in a production of “Our Town” with Jack Klugman, and was in the Irish Players’ Off-Broadway production of “Playboy of the Western World” with Helena Carroll. Her appreciation and knowledge of jazz were inspired by hearing many of the great jazz musicians of the era.

In 1948 she married clarinet/soprano sax player Bob Wilber; they divorced in 1977.

Ricky performed in plays and musicals at Elmwood Playhouse in Nyack, N.Y., including “The Heiress,” “Company,” “A Little Night Music” and “The Real Inspector Hound.” She acted with the Unicorn Players, a touring children’s theatre troupe. She was a memorable Momma Rose in “Gypsy,” and had extra work in films such as “Awakenings” and on the television show “Quincy.”


Her family and friends will greatly miss her wit, wisdom, and “talent to amuse.”

She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Gongde and her son-in-law Karma Gongde of Malden, Mass.

Donations in her memory can be made to Save Tigers Now. Burial will be on Aug. 25 at 2 p.m. in the Rahn family plot at Fairview Cemetery in Kutztown.