A dad, a husband, a brother, and most importantly a friend, the late Rick Ridgeway, this year's Relay For Life honoree, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer in March 2013, and battled it for four years. Ridgeway lost his battle Dec. 19, 2016.
The treatments were endless and tiring however, he never showed it. Through it all, he had a smile on his face, a positive mindset, a kind heart and most importantly never stopped giving. He gave so much to not only his community, but to his friends and his family and never once expected anything in return.
He never once stopped and asked, "Why me?" He took the cards he was dealt and made the most of them. Ridgeway found joy in the little things in life, like giggles of his granddaughter, the great outdoors, and being on his Harley with his wife, Shannon.
Those who knew Ridgeway never had anything but amazing things to say about him. He was a man you could go to for anything and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Ridgeway loved being outdoors and keeping busy. Many have fun hunting stories with him, even some that can never be told.
Riding his Harley with his best buddies was another hobby that he loved to do. Ridgeway enjoyed his life with lifelong friends and his precious family.
An employee of Deschutes Valley Water District for more than 30 years, Ridgeway loved working for the community. His co-workers were his family away from home and he truly loved getting up and going to work every day.
Ridgeway was first diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer, which had spread to his lymph nodes, in March 2013. Over the next four years, he worked with his medical team, enduring surgery and several attempts at different cancer-fighting treatments.
In the summer of 2016, he was approved for TIL immunotherapy. In TIL therapy, doctors harvest a patient's own natural immune cells, grow them outside of the body and then transplant them back into the patient, much like a transfusion, hoping the new cells will attack the tumors.
Unfortunately, on Dec. 12, 2016, the Ridgeways were given the news that the cancer had gone to his brain. One week later, on Dec. 19, he passed away, surrounded by his family and special close friends.
Rick Ridgeway's history
Richard (Rick) Glenn Ridgeway was born Sept. 4, 1963, on the Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. In 1973, he moved with his parents, Richard (Dick) Gene Ridgeway and Anne Margaret (Crook) Mitchell, to Madras, where he lived for most of his life.
Ridgeway's ancestors, the Ridgeways and Grants, homesteaded in the Lamonta area of Jefferson County. The Meeker side of his family came from Boyd, Oregon, and the Crook side, from Kings Lynn, England.
Ridgeway, who attended school mostly in Madras as a White Buffalo, spent a lot of time with family and friends even then. He was on the high school golf team for a while, and loved his four-wheel drive vehicles from a Scout to a Chevy to a Ford.
In those days, family members said he couldn't seem to stay out of mischief, but none of it was very serious.
"I remember when we were very little, I was probably 4, so he was 5 1/2 or 6, he wanted to know if a hammer would hurt when it struck you," said his sister, Teresa Adams. "I don't remember how he talked me into being the guinea pig, but I remember my big toenail fell off."
"Also, when he was 12, he was babysitting me and put a dumbbell with very heavy weights (for a 10-year-old) across my neck, so I couldn't move until Mom and Dad got home," she said. "Made it much easier to keep track of me, I suppose."
Shortly after high school, Ridgeway worked in the pool/spa industry and also farmed until 1984, when he was hired by Deschutes Valley Water District, where he remained employed until his passing. He was a dedicated employee and truly loved his job.
Ridgeway loved his family and treated them with love, respect, and loyalty. "He was always the first to show up when someone needed something," said Adams. "He didn't care if you were his blood or not, if he liked you, you were family."
Adams described her brother as hardworking man, with a sense of humor, who loved to tease and spoil his daughters, nieces and nephews. "Sometimes, the only way you knew he was teasing was the twinkle in his eye," she said. "At the same time, he was not shy about telling you how it is."
Ridgeway loved spending his afternoons with his granddaughter, Harper.
When his daughter, Kimberly, was between 6 and 8, she and her dad used to ride around in his Ford pickup listening to Garth Brooks' "Roping the Wind" album, while they both sang along to every song.
He spent lots of time fishing and hunting with his daughter, Kimberly, and stepdaughters, Bri, Taylor and Hannah Sjolund, nephew, Travis, and best friends, Bob Wanker and Shelby Adams. Hunting and fishing were always great hobbies for him.
Once, when he was turkey hunting, he used a call, and didn't realize he was being stalked by a cougar, he sister recounted. "Luckily, he noticed (the cougar) before the cougar realized he wasn't stalking a turkey."
A dedicated family man, Ridgeway was loving, generous, and helpful to all. "Whether he was visiting his mom, camping with cousins at the Ridgeway deer camp, Dupont and Ridgeway family reunions, or just hanging out, family and friends were very important to him," said Adams. "It didn't matter if he saw you every day or every once in a while."
"He was quite a character," she said, recalling a reel-to-reel video of him in a coconut bikini with a grass skirt. "It's funny to think about, even today."
Information on the late Rick Ridgeway was submitted by his wife, Shannon, and sister, Teresa Adams.
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