Ranger Rick of Occidental passes on
Occidental residents were stunned to learn that Rick Kaufman, known by everyone as Ranger Rick, had passed away in his sleep Feb. 18. The beloved town “greeter” kept the town swept, cleaned the pocket parks of Occidental and helped people park.
An impromptu shrine to him appeared in the mini-park outside St. Philip’s church on Sunday evening, and people gathered with candles to mourn his loss. Plans were immediately set afoot for a service, but it was learned Ranger Rick has a family that wants to attend any services, so they are being postponed until the family can travel to Occidental.
Kaufman was born in San Francisco Nov. 29, 1948. He had loving parents and grandparents and then, in 1964, tragedy struck when his father, an engineer, had a fatal cerebral hemorrhage at work. His mother, Kathryn Kaufman Runcie, took Rick and his sister Ruth to San Jose to be closer to her family. Rick graduated from high school in San Jose and attended San Jose State College for two years.
“He grew up in a traditional family of that era,” his mother said in a telephone interview. “Music lessons, scouts, all that was available to him.”
It was the Vietnam War era, and Rick moved to the Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. He married and had two daughters, Tamra and Toni. He later divorced, and he “had some hard times” until he came to Occidental and changed his life.
Services will be announced in the near future after his mother decides if he should be buried in the family Jewish Cemetery plot or in Occidental, where she was moved to learn he was so well loved. Kaufman and his mother reconciled last year when his friend Robert Becker drove him to Oregon to visit her.
Kaufman was predeceased by his sister Ruth Kaufman Donk, and is survived by his mother, his daughters Tamra Ellis and Toni Lighthizer, three granddaughters and a grandson.