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Ranger Rick, Occidental’s town “greeter” dies

Monday, February 20th, 2012 | Posted by

Photo by Ben Aranoff

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 sudden 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.  Rick and his mother had been reconciled when his friend Robert Becker drove him to Oregon to visit her last year.

Rick 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.

  • Scott Turner

    Rest in Peace, Ranger Rick. You will me missed by many.

  • Janis

    Occidental will not be the same without Ranger Rick. I will miss him. I hope I get a chance to meet hs mother, and his grandchildren.

  • Jen Tucker

    My good friend I will miss you. Friday nights will never be the same in Occidental without you. I will be singing our song we wrote together “Occidental Journey”….the psalms of the redwood trees.

  • Kimberly

    Ranger could be cantankerous as well as entertaining, helpful and ALWAYS in the know of things around Occidental. There is now an unfillable void in Occidental.

  • http://www.badabamama.com Zero the Wunderweight (KOF-Ahem!)

    Ranger Rick kept Occidental’s smiles contagious and its streets clean. As a performance artist
    of the highest caliber, he succeeded more than any other of my loyal subjects in sniggling his snarfs.* Awarded the Royal Seal of Approval with the Bodhisatvatudinous Dude Morningstar Crest.
    *More info about sniggles and snarfs in Occidental King Zero’s 2005 coronation speech here:

  • Kim

    Ranger Rick was well loved by our community! There never was a day without him waving to us as we drove thru town. I’ll never forget seeing him at a Giants baseball game 10 years ago! It was amazing, us Occidentalites meeting at Candlestick on a chilly SF day. He also was so proud to be interviewed by two of my children for their English project at Analy!! Ranger Rick, you will always be in our hearts!! RIP!

  • Meryl Krause

    I\’ve just heard the news in Thailand. He will be missed so much. Let\’s plant a tree in his honor.

  • Chris Lindsey

    The end of an era 4 sure. Occidental will never be the same w/o Ranger Rick.RIP Range. Save me a stool @ that bar room in the sky.

  • Dan

    Awww, Ranger…. why did you leave us ? You have been my friend ever since I moved here 20 years ago. The town will never be the same with you not being here. I will miss you. Rest in peace Brother.

  • Alan Bates

    There’s a lovely, sensitive, piece about Ranger Rick on Anthony Watts’ site.


    Hopefully, many more people will learn about him and your town.

    I feel my life has been enriched by the story of his life and by the actions of the Occidentalites.
    Best wishes from the West Midlands of England.


  • S.M.

    Thank you Ranger Rick.
    When my daughter was a teenager she was angry and alienated from us for awhile, it was a worrisome time. Ater school I would pick her up from school in downtown Occidental. The kids would be sitting around Rick and clearly he had an interest in listening to them. One day when I was downtown going into the market he came up to me with those brilliant blue eyes blazing with a humorous look and said, Don’t worry mom, she’s going to be all right.” It was a good moment. Fast forward 15 years and she is all right, survived the teen years and cited when hearing of his passing. “You know mom, he always listened to us in ways you couldn’t.” It takes a village.

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Andrea Granahan is our West County correspondent.
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