I lost a friend the other day. Let me describe him to you, from those of us who’ve known him our whole lives…
Rick was one of a kind.
He was high voltage.
He beat to his own drum.
He’s the funniest person I’ve ever known.
No one could really keep up with his energy, but he was always fun to run alongside and try to keep up with — even just for a moment.
Rick was an uncanny, energetic, passionate man. From first grade on, I never failed to laugh in his presence.
I’ll add a little more…
He was a wrestler in middle school and went undefeated in 8th grade.
He was a brewer for Oaken Barrel Brewing Co. long before the craft industry became cool.
He owned several ferrets over the course of his life.
He loved animals.
He was a tireless worker and enjoyed a successful hospitality and sales career.
Rick, too, loved an audience…
He was an entertaining mix of Robin Williams, Sam Kinison, and Ronald Reagan.
In high school, he used our lunch table as the test market for his standup routine. Every day. I think our favorite was watching him eat his peaches as if they were a live goldfish.
Rick would also do anything for his friends…
Rick wanted to be a friend to all.
He was clever, raw, edgy, conservative, and loyal to his friends.
He would be the first to stand and the last to fall when it came to the people and issues he held dear.
He was firm in his convictions, but not condemning.
He loved his family and friends fiercely.
With the rise of social media, Rick also found new ways to voice his passions — and voice them he did. He was never afraid to speak his mind, and often, brazenly so. He spoke out sometimes daily on the issues, never hesitant to call it as he saw it. We interacted often, and when I saw him some 3-4 years ago, I razzed Rick for the frequent sharpness in his political statements — he who comes from a stance one friend describes as “somewhere a little bit to the right of G. Gordon Liddy and Friedrich Nietzsche.” Rick shyly grinned, turned a little red, and said something along the lines of “yeah, I know I can be a little rough sometimes.”
But Rick’s roughness never impeded how he felt about his friends — even on those days he’d shoot me a quick bold text, arguing I was wrong or not hard enough on someone. Said another friend, “He and I really butted heads over politics and rights, but he was also the first person to tell me how much he cared about me!” The key to our friend, Rick, was that his convictions never compromised his relationships.
I’m thinking of how much I will miss Rick. I think, too, of the current sad, digressing, societal state in which too many intelligent others have allowed their convictions to compromise who they love and how they love them… how their convictions have knowingly and intentionally damaged their relationships… how they have no tolerance for the conviction of another… and how that intolerant tone rubs off on those who take it way too far. Some want passionate voices silenced. On the left. On the right. That grieves me, as we are sacrificing wisdom.
While I can no longer hear, Rick’s raw, edgy, voice, his silence also grieves me…
Some final words…
“Bottom line — he was a great guy who would do anything for his friends. When he asked how you were doing, he really cared. He knew that life was hard, and we’re all in this together. There are people who don’t know Rick who will think that he gave up early on life. But he was a shooting star that was destined to burn out early. He even knew that. He candidly talked about being amazed to be alive in his 20s and in his 30s and in his 40s. And he didn’t work hard to stay alive for himself — he did that for us. He did that for his friends and family, and we were blessed to have him here for 52 years. For those who knew him, he is irreplaceable — but I trust that his memory will live on in the stories. I’m guessing everyone has their favorite Rick story. I’m smiling right now as I think of mine. Somewhere in heaven, Rick is working his routine on a new audience. God bless him.”