Chapel Hill: Obituaries

Rebecca Hargett Ranson

Rebecca Hargett Ranson, daughter of hall-of-fame UNC track coach Dale Ranson, died on September 4, 2017, after a brave and dignified battle with Alzheimer’s.Rebecca earned a MFA in Playwriting at UNC in 1975 and became a prolific playwright, director, community organizer, and arts leader. A unique and adventurous soul, Rebecca was filled with compassion for others. Her home was always open to rescued animals and wayward people alike. She marched for civil rights, cared for people living with AIDS, and taught prison inmates. In the 1970s Rebecca co-founded a vibrant community theater in Durham, Pocket Theater, along with Durham resident, William Coke Ariail III, and later helped found Alternate ROOTS in Tennessee and Southeast Arts, Media & Education in Atlanta, all based in her passion for progressive arts production in the rural south. She received the Robert Chesley Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. Her collected writings are archived at Emory University: <a href="" target="_new"></a>. Rebecca loved to laugh, walk her dogs, and tell stories about her son, Charlie. She is survived by sister Laura Ranson of Machipongo, VA, son Charlie Engle of Durham and grandsons Brett and Kevin Engle. The family is eternally grateful to Kimberly McCowan of Oxford, NC and Robert Sellers of Cape Charles, VA, who stood by Rebecca with dedication and love after her Alzheimer’s diagnosis, helping her live at home with her beloved dogs for as long as possible. We also thank the staff of Heritage Hall in Nassawadox, VA who provided gracious care in her last years. Rebecca wrote these words for us, when her mind was still clear: “I would like to thank all of you for being a part of my life and loving me. It has been good. I have been happy. Stay with your dreams and make the world better. I love you." To honor Rebecca's life, please consider making a donation to The Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolina <a href="" target="_new"></a> or to 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta <a href="" target="_new"></a>. A public celebration of her creative, passionate and humor-filled life will be held at 7 Stages Theater in Atlanta: October 29, 4pm. A private, family ceremony will be held in Chapel Hill.