Rebecca A.'s Story
On Thursday, October 27, 2016, Rebecca Nitkin passed away unexpectedly after a brief illness. She was the beloved wife of Paul Saltzman, sharing 25 years of an exceptional life. Together they took great joy in raising their cherished daughter, Cydney Paige, delighting in her every achievement. Rebecca was the devoted and loving daughter of Lewis and Judith Neilsen Nitkin of Gloucester, Mass.; and granddaughter of the late Everett and Pearl Neilsen and Wilfred and Celia Nitkin. Her great-grandfather, Neils C. Neilsen, a lifetime Gloucester fisherman, was one of the oldest men in the city before his death at age 106. Rebecca grew up in West Hartford, Conn., where she graduated from Conard High School. Her love of ballet began at age five and continued throughout her lifetime. Her friends at Conard remember her choreographing dances for them to perform at talent shows. "She was a beautiful swan." After high school, Rebecca matriculated at Skidmore College and majored in dance and performed professionally in various ballet productions. Upon graduation she moved to Boston and received a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. She then was employed by the Department of Children's Services in Roxbury, Mass., where she encountered dangerous and heartbreaking situations daily. After spending much time in courtrooms defending her decisions to remove children from unsuitable homes, she decided to attend law school.
She moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Catholic University Law School, all the while continuing her dedication to social work at Child Protective Services in Prince George's county. Upon passing the bar, she joined a small law firm as their first and only criminal defense attorney. She was on her way! From there she formed her own one-woman firm and set out to change the world. A petite powerhouse, Rebecca brought ferocious intellect and relentless energy to the law and earned the respect and admiration of her colleagues in countless courtrooms.
She was known for high-profile cases that earned both local and national media attention, with discussion on programs such as Good Morning America, The Today Show, Fox News, Court TV and Nancy Grace. She first earned recognition on the Super Lawyers List in 2007 and remained on it for several consecutive years. She was a Maryland Fellow and a Bar Leader of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation. She was a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and the Maryland Criminal Defense Association.
Her latest focus was on the impact of police brutality, with a goal to raise awareness "about how and why law enforcement abuse is happening, and most importantly, how the justice system must change."
Rebecca leaves a broken-hearted family, including her mother-in-law, Janice Saltzman; her dearest brother, Capt. Jonathan Nitkin and his wife, Kelly; her brother-in-law, Scott Saltzman and his remarkable wife, Vicki; her sister-in-law, Barbara; and several nieces and nephews; and countless friends.
Funeral services for Rebecca were held on Sunday, October 30, 2016, at Kol Shalom Synagogue in Rockville, Md. It was attended by more than 500 mourners whose lives she touched---attorneys, judges, states attorneys, politicians, and of course, her clients, who expressed repeatedly how she had saved their lives. The procession to the cemetery was four miles long, and 13 police cars cleared the highways.
A memorial service for friends and neighbors will be held at Temple Ahavat Achim, 86 Middle Street, Gloucester, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 20. A light in our world has been extinguished, but the light of her love and her passionate zeal for life will live in us forever. Memorial contributions may be made to the Temple.