Rita Charmatz Davidson 

(1928 - 1984)

Rita Davidson. Photo:  Morris L. Radoff, Maryland Manual 1973-1974

Rita Charmatz Davidson compiled a long list of firsts in her distinguished public service career. She was the first woman on the Maryland Court of Appeals.  She was also the first woman to serve in the cabinet of a Maryland governor.  As significant as those accomplishments are, it is what she achieved while serving in each of those positions that truly merits our respect and admiration.  She was a champion of the poor, minority populations and those whose individual civil liberties seemed threatened.

Rita Davidson began her career in private law practice in the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, while also becoming involved in county politics and government.  In 1970, she was named Secretary of the State Department of Employment and Social Services, the highest position in Maryland government occupied by a woman at that time.  She focused public attention on the needs of our poor and forgotten citizens and the inadequacies of the governmental programs designed to help them.  Much of the progress those programs have made is a direct result of the attention she gave them during her term as department secretary.  In 1973, Rita Davidson was appointed a judge on the Court of Special Appeals.  Six years later, she was appointed to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.  On both courts, she distinguished herself as a brilliant, strong, compassionate and thorough jurist.  Her legal legacy touches areas of law such as family relations, administrative behavior, capital punishment, gender equity and land use planning.

By her intellect, commitment and compassion, Rita Davidson moved the State of Maryland in very important ways and is a shining example to today's and tomorrow's leaders.  She was an accomplished career woman who shared generously of her soul.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1985.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001