Our beloved Rick passed away on the night of Friday, January 26, 2024, at Novant Health / New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC, after experiencing a heart attack earlier in the day.
There is so much to say about Rick – it is hard to know where to begin and where to end.
Rick was 74 years old and lived in Wrightsville Beach, NC. He was born in Port Chester, NY, on July 19, 1949, and grew up in New Milford, CT. Rick graduated from New Milford High School and then from Siena College in Loudonville, NY. His loving parents (both now deceased) were Joseph A. Ricozzi and Kathryn I. Ricozzi.
Early in life, Rick worked in the health and fitness industry, managing many health clubs. In fact, Rick was working at a Chapel Hill health club when he greeted the most important client of his life… his eventual wife! Rick later decided to go into real estate, a career focus which included a range of endeavors after a move to Charlotte, NC. For over fifteen years, he worked variously in sales, property management and investing, mortgage lending, and appraising. After moving to Wrightsville Beach, NC, Rick focused on commercial sales until deciding to turn his passion for photography into a full-time business. Rick made many work transitions over his lifetime, and he was good at everything he did.
Rick was a person who was totally comfortable in his own skin. He was always the same, no matter where he was or who he was with. He was totally down to earth, without an ounce of pretentiousness. And even with difficult people, Rick was always patient and kind.
Rick was the Pied Piper! He had a magnetic attraction that pulled everyone to him, and everyone loved him. He lifted their spirits and made them laugh. Rick was always gentle and quiet (unless the UNC Tar Heels were losing), but had a huge presence. He loved animals, and they loved him.
He had an encyclopedic knowledge of:
Music – Rick knew almost every musician and band, and their backstories and all their songs. (He attended Woodstock, and he also DJ’ed in college!)
Sports – At both the collegiate and professional levels, Rick knew the players, the coaches, their respective backgrounds, and their styles of play – especially regarding basketball and football.
Photography – Rick had a natural talent and was constantly educating himself about the various advancements in cameras, shot techniques, and image processing. As a result, the photographs Rick created were stunning, and he won several awards from Leica Fotografie International. Although he photographed many family portraits, weddings, and landscapes, Rick’s favorite subject became architecture. It was beautiful to watch Rick focus on this craft later in life, as his love of photography began in college, where he was a campus photographer. (Visit www.RickRicozzi.com for a sampling of Rick’s work.)
Cooking – Rick’s meals were superb, and he was fun, cheerful, and extremely capable in the kitchen.
Rick was committed to health and fitness. He was extremely robust. He exercised regularly. He ate healthily. He maintained a great attitude and a wonderful sense of humor. He got regular check-ups and monitored his “numbers,” which were all within range. He was full of energy, vigor, and life.
And yet Rick left us suddenly. After a typical morning of working out at the gym, having a nice breakfast, and tending to his beloved backyard flower garden, Rick walked to the end of the street to check the mail. He collapsed before he reached the mailboxes. Who would have thought that this would have happened to such a vibrant, fit man?
Rick’s passing was so sudden and unexpected. Everyone who knew him thought that he would outlive us all. But in the end, he left this world like most of us would want to… enjoying a beautiful day and doing things he loved with people he loved. Rick did not suffer any illness or feebleness or the loss of his quick, witty mind. The usual infirmities and indignities of old age never put their hold on him.
As one of Rick’s dear friends from Chapel Hill wrote, “The suddenness of Rick’s passing sent knives plunging into the hearts of all of us who loved him so much. Still, we can see Rick’s face, and it is calm and bright, and he’s telling us all, ‘Don’t worry about me. I’m okay. Just keep loving those Tar Heels for me!'”
How can there be a man who lived with a woman for over forty years and never said an unkind word or did an unkind deed to her? A man who would never put anyone down and would never even let them put themselves down? A man who was loyal and devoted no matter the circumstances that had to be faced? A man who was constantly cheerful and always fun? A man who loved seeing everybody, but also loved the contentment of just being at home? It seems impossible, but Rick showed us how to be just such a man.
Rick will be greatly missed by:
His adoring, fortunate wife, Mickie Helms, who weeps at his death but is filled with gratitude for his life;
His siblings and their spouses:
Karyn Dahmer (sister) and Dean Dahmer, of Manassas, VA;
Gary Ricozzi (brother) and Cynthia Morrell, of Orlando, FL; and
Luanne Stevenson (sister) and Sandy Stevenson, of Manassas, VA.
His nieces and their spouses:
Dana Heino (daughter of Karyn) and Mike Heino, of Manassas, VA; and
Shelby King (daughter of Luanne and Sandy) and Robert King, of Gainesville, VA.
His great nieces and nephew:
Ella Heino, Eva Heino, and Oliver Heino (children of Dana and Mike), of Manassas, VA; and
Riley King (daughter of Shelby and Robert), of Gainesville, VA.
Miles Helms (son of Bill), of Ridgeway, SC; and
Tate Helms (son of Bill), of Charlotte, NC.
Most especially his brother-in-law:
Bill Helms (Mickie’s brother), of Wrightsville Beach, NC (Rick’s daily buddy for all things sports and politics, and for the “What’s for dinner?” family ritual).
And by more family members and friends than could ever be named!
The family would like to extend a special thanks to the first responders and hospital staff for their care of Rick, and for their kindness in the aftermath of his passing. We also greatly appreciate the efforts of the neighbor who discovered Rick immediately after his collapse and administered CPR until medics arrived.
Rick’s remains have been cremated, per his wishes. As such, there will be no interment. No memorial service is planned at this time. However, a “Celebration of Life” will be announced at a later date. Every effort will be made to allow for virtual participation in the service, as Rick had friends far and wide. To be added to the Celebration of Life notification email list, please send an email to CelebrateRickRicozzi@gmail.com. The event details will also be posted to Rick’s Facebook page once they have been finalized.
Please do not send flowers… perhaps consider planting one in Rick’s memory instead.
Thank you for being a part of Rick’s life, and for your support as we all mourn his passing.
Please leave memories and condolences for Richard’s family by signing the Tribute Wall below.
Care entrusted to Wilmington Funeral & Cremation – Wilmington Chapel – 1535 S. 41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403 910.791.9099.