My wife Cathy and I met Rick in 1974 when we were all undergraduate students at Penn State’s main campus in University Park, Pa. Rick and I lived on the tenth floor of a concrete box known as Pinchot Hall in the East Halls dorm complex. We roomed together my sophomore year (Rick’s senior year), when he was sports editor of the Penn State Daily Collegian newspaper.
I was struck by Rick’s personality first, his talent second: his wry and self-deprecating wit and humor, uncommon humility, no-strings-attached humanity, and always-on graciousness. His Collegian colleagues’ admiration and adoration for him were unending. He had a flock of followers — friends and colleagues who (like me) realized they were in the midst of an exceptional talent, and an exceptional soul.
As a communications major and sports fan, I was awed by Rick’s sportswriting skills, but even more by how he treated people. He became a role model for me, and I’m sure for other many others, about how to view life (with gentleness, curiosity and irony), keep work in perspective, and respect others.
But the greatest gift Rick gave me was introducing me to the woman who would later become my wife, Cathy (24 years later, but that’s another story). She worked at The Collegian, too, and I doubt I would have met her had Rick not brought me into the Collegian gang of Rick admirers and fellow partiers. (Our dorm room was known as Starr’s Bar & Grill.) I joined the Collegian staff in 1976, a year after Rick graduated, and we stayed in close touch after I graduated from Penn State in 1977 despite being 2,500 miles away from each other by that time —he in Pittsburgh, and I in Southern California.)
Cathy and I started dating in 1996 and married two years later. We have six children (five from each of our first marriages and one together), all of whom had the opportunity to meet and enjoy Rick before he passed away in 2017.
We think about Rick continually. He was that kind of person. We hope this award honors his work and his gentle, funny, compassionate approach to living for years to come. — Bob Buday
Check out our favorite photos of Rick here…and use the “Reply” section below to share your memories of Rick as a writer and a friend.