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SMITH, Richard Ralph (Rick)

August 30, 1947 – Calgary, Alberta
July 4, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Rick Smith on Thursday, July 4, 2019, at the Foothills Hospital, due to complications of pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 71 years.

Rick was born at the Grace Hospital in Calgary but spent his childhood in Longview, Alberta. His family then moved to Calgary where he spent the majority of his life, and upon his retirement, he and Erika returned to Longview.

Rick graduated from Crescent Heights High School, and then studied Business Administration at Mount Royal College before transferring to Eastern Washington University, where he obtained a Business Degree in Marketing. Upon graduation, he worked briefly for Hudson’s Bay Oil and Gas in Accounting. He then joined Heritage Park where he worked for thirty three years, twenty five of which as General Manager. He enjoyed his career at Heritage Park, as it allowed to him to meet many interesting people over the years. He genuinely cared about everyone he worked with, and his impact on people and the Park showed. Rick loved history and had an amazing memory for recalling the smallest details. He was on the Calgary Stampede Historical Committee for twenty five years. Rick was a great promoter of Heritage Park, the Calgary Stampede, and Calgary in general. He was a key contributor to the “western heritage” that Calgary is so proud of and can be credited with having a major role in growing tourism in both Calgary and all of Alberta.

Rick served on many boards over the years including Tourism Calgary, Alberta Tourism, and Calgary Coop (twenty years). He was frequently a guest lecturer at the University of Calgary School of Tourism, and in 2005 he was selected as one of one hundred fifty Centennial Ambassadors for Alberta. His commitment and dedication to the community continued right up to the day of his death in spite of dealing with health problems for the past twenty years. He was also a member of the Calgary Rotary Club for many years.

Rick was an avid hunter and was fortunate to have many good friends on whose ranches he could hunt. It was a sad day when he realized that poor health was making this favorite pastime no longer possible, but was happy to share this passion with his son, who is an avid hunter to this day.

Rick was a huge chuckwagon racing fan. He loved the sport and the people connected with it and would promote it wherever he could. His enthusiasm was contagious and many people became fans because of Rick. He first became involved in sponsoring a chuckwagon in 1984, both at the Stampede and the chuckwagon circuit. He could be found, for ten nights each year, standing on the tarmac at the Stampede, cheering on the chucks. Rick attended seventy Calgary Stampedes, and in 2016, was honoured to be made a Stampede Life Member.

Rick’s dedication to tourism and commitment to community have been recognized over the years with many special awards. Some of these include Chuckwagon Person of the Year, White Hatter of the Year, Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals, Alberta Centennial Medal, Calgary Signature Award, Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Award, Mount Royal University Alumni – Lifetime Achievement Award, and many other Tourism awards. Rick never sought special recognition for himself, but others recognized his special talents. For Rick, it was always about doing the right thing.

Rick was a kind, gentle, caring man who always put others before himself. No challenge was too big and he worked to the best of his ability to make things happen. He connected with people from all walks of life and was genuinely interested in their lives. He was an inspiration to all who knew him as he faced each new health challenge with an incredibly positive attitude. Rick was an amazing and unforgettable man with a big presence, a big heart and a big smile. We will miss him.

Rick will be lovingly remembered by his wife of forty years Erika, son Michael (Deanne); daughter Christine (Rob Young); granddaughters, Conlee and Whitley Smith, and Ella Young. He is also survived by his sisters, Judy (Don Eaglesham) and Sandi Smith; mother-in-law Frieda Schlunzen, as well as a large extended family and many friends. Rick was predeceased by his parents, Ralph and Thelma Smith; and father-in-law Rolf Schlunzen.

At Rick’s request, no formal service will be held. Condolences may be forwarded through www.McInnisandHolloway.com. If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to STARS Air Ambulance, 1441 Aviation Park N.E., Calgary, AB T2E 8M7, Tel: 403-295-1811; www.stars.ca, or to the Lung Association, 208, 17420 Stony Plain Road NW, Edmonton, Alberta, T5S 1K6, Tel: 1-888-566-LUNG (5864); https://ab.lung.ca/donate. The family would like to thank Dr. Stephen Field and his team at the Foothills Hospital, Dr. Matt Schuck and the caring staff at Oilfields Hospital in Black Diamond.

In living memory of Rick Smith, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Fish Creek, 14441 Bannister Road SE, Calgary, AB, T2X 3J3, Telephone: 403-256-9575.

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Condolence Messages

  1. Dear Erika and family, I am so so sorry to hear about Rick’s passing. Rick was such a kind man. I know you will miss him dearly. Randy has a buddy in heaven now. Those two boys can rehash their years together on the board.

    My deepest condolences. Valerie and Emily Kott

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  2. Johanna Bates

    As a Calgary Coop director, Rick was passionately committed to the wellbeing of the thousands of employees. Rick was a true cooperator in every sense of the word. It was a privilege to serve with him. I extend my deepest condolences to Erika, Michael, Christine and their families. God bless you all! God bless you Rick! Rest In Peace.

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  3. Erika, all my heart-felt condolences to you, Michael and Christine. We lost a good man. My memories of the chuckwagons are always those bright orange jackets and your family at the barns then cheering the wagons down the track.
    Thinking of you at this sad time, Cheryl Chapin

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  4. So sorry Erika I will be thinking of him tonight at the wagon races. Such a good man hugs

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  5. Erika and family, Bob and I were very sad to hear of Ricks passing. Please know our hearts go out to all of you and we will always have great memories of what a great person Rick was as a family man and in the community. Love you Lucy and Bob Thomas

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  6. Harry and Doris Lesick

    Our sincerest sympathy to the family of Rick Smith, he will be missed!

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  7. Dear Erika and family,

    I’m deeply saddened to hear of Rick’s passing. He was a kind, loving man and he was very dedicated to making a positive impact in the community. I’ll always cherish the time we got to spend with your family doing filming for the MRU Alumni Achievement Award. Please take care!

    Kathy

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  8. James Baillies

    To Erika and family,
    I met Rick when I helped to produce a film about him for the MRU Alumni Achievement Awards. I very much enjoyed meeting him and remember his kind and gentle manner, his wonderful collection of velvet paintings, and the fact that he knew all the great fishing holes along the Highwood River. I also remember how how proud he was of his family. My deepest condolences for your loss.

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  9. Jonathon McKay

    To Erika and family,
    I feel so blessed to have met Rick and to have been able to spend time with him during his journey. I will always remember his deep love and commitment to his family and his kindness to those around him. He will be missed greatly…my thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    Blessings

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  10. Meredith Debnam

    To Rick’s Family
    I just want to say thank you for sharing Rick with my husband and myself over the years. When Dave was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, Rick visited with him on numerous occasions as their days went back to when Dave was working at Stampede Park. I met Rick through the chuckwagons. He was a wonderful friend to all and he will be missed. May he Rest in Peace.

    Love to all,
    – Meredith Debnam

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  11. Tracey Walshaw

    I’m so sorry to hear of Rick’s passing. We only saw each other at the post office but he always had a smile and was so nice to talk to!

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  12. Chelsey Kehler

    I am so sorry to hear about Rick’s passing, I know it’s been a long battle and I am thinking of you.

    Lots of Love,
    Chelsey

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  13. I am so sad to hear this. Rick was a wonderful friend and was a sweet man. Whenever I saw him, there were always hugs. I am blessed to have known him. My Mom, Lorraine Proskow, sends her condolences to Rick’s family.

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  14. Erika we were so sorry to hear of Rick’s passing.He was a true gentleman and always had time for a nice visit. He will be missed in many places. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Don and Joan Wilson

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  15. Merri Ann Allan

    Although I hadn’t seen Rick in years, he always had a special place in my heart. He was like a big brother to me and gave me some very common sense advice over 40 years ago that changed the direction of my life. I remember him as someone that had a passion for life and making people laugh! My memories of him (and his deep voice) will always stay with me. My condolences to his family and everyone who loved him.

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  16. Erica and family .My sincerest condolences on the loss of your loved one. He certainly accomplished a great deal in his life and will certainly be missed.
    With sympathy. Pauline

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  17. To the Smith family,

    I am truly sorry for your loss. Rick was always a gentleman and share stories with us in the volunteer lounge at Stampede. He will be missed by so many of us.
    Kim McGregor

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  18. Linda Faulkner

    Dear Erika
    I am sorry to read of Ricks passing; you were quite the “team”. Those who touched our hearts stay in our lives forever. My thoughts are with you and your family.
    With deepest sympathy Linda Rawcliffe Casey Faulkner

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  19. Elizabeth Teece

    My mother Olive Ahead by (Lode) had an over 20 year association with Rick. She played piano at the Wainwright hotel at Heritage Park every weekend for many years. She loved, respected, loved working with him and enjoyed their friendship. His death would have a sad day for her as it is for me and no doubt all who knew him at HP.

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  20. Darrell mcCoomb

    I am so sorry to hear of Rick‘s passing I Meet Rick 30 years ago and I know how passionate he was chuckwagon and hunting in Finnigan with Lee and son Cody Million he will be sadly missed

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  21. John & Jill Dakers

    Dear Erika & Family….
    We were so sorry to hear about Rick. Please know that we’re thinking of you and sending lots of hugs your way.
    Fondly,
    John & Jill Dakers

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  22. Henry and Karen Boc

    Dear Erika and Family,
    We are so sorry to read of Rick’s passing.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
    With deepest sympathy.
    Henry and Karen Boc

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  23. Delilah Miller

    Dear Erika. I’m grateful to have met Rick and always enjoyed chatting with him about business ventures, marketing and making our area open for everyone to discover. I will miss his smiling face at the East Longview concerts. He was always a great supported and promoter. Hugs to you and your family. Delilah Miller

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  24. Keith & Cathie Newmarch

    Dear Erika, Michael, Christine and family,
    Our condolences to you all on the passing of your beloved Rick.
    Our thoughts are with you at this time.

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  25. Erika, Michael and Christine, my thoughts are with you all. Many fond memories where made during Rick’s time at Heritage Park.

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  26. Thinking of you and your family Erika and sending lots of hugs.

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  27. Wilf & Mailyn Kaiser

    Dear Erika and family — we were saddened to hear of Rick’s death. The obituary certainly captured his life as best the printed word could. We have fond memories right back when he had a summer job at the City of Calgary Electric System (Marilyn worked there) and his time at HBOG (where Wilf worked). But more significantly in his chuckwagon era. It was always good to look across the tarmac in front of the stage and see his tall fame and cowboy hat or back at the barns as he did ‘his rounds’ visiting with everyone. He is missed and admired for his perseverance during years of compromised health. Best wishes to all of you. You have many memories to cherish his time with you!

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  28. Shelley & Blake Willard

    Dear Erica and Family… we’re sending our condolences and love to all of Rick’s loved ones. Rick was a special guy and we always enjoyed our visits with him. We missed him on the tar mac this year at the Rangeland Derby… and we did a “tequila toast” in his honour last Wednesday night. He will always be missed at the tar mac and along the trail. We’ll cherish our memories as will so many others. Happy Trails and R.I.P. Rick.

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  29. Dear Erica and family,

    We are so very sad of hear of Rick’s passing, please know that we are thinking of you and keeping you and your family in our prayers. Reid and I were so pleased that we got to visit with Rick and you at SaddleUp this year, he was a wonderful, kind, and gentle man,,, the best qualities! His pride of the western heritage was an integral part of his persona. My son Reid (Fiest) and I travelled to Quebec City to celebrate Carnivale and represent Calgary! This was our first introduction, of many to the fabulous Rick Smith! He was a giant to us in so many ways that we will always treasure and remember. God bless him and your family. Hugs, Joanne and Reid Fiest

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  30. Erica and family,
    We were so sorry to hear of your loss.
    We first met you both over twenty five years ago when Michael and Todd played baseball with Southland Little League.
    What a special man he was. Todd was so very luck to have Rick as a coach and I was so fortunate to volunteer with him over the years. He always supported me and I did need that a few times!
    We have lost one of the best, a true gentleman he was, and he will be remembered.
    We are thinking of you all at this time.
    Fondly,
    Bill, Judy and Todd Rice

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  31. Judy and Sandi
    We were so sorry to hear of the passing of your brother. You are in our prayers.
    Donna Fox Larry Thompson

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  32. Dear Erika,
    We were so sorry to read about the passing of Rick. We had a great relationship during my term on the Board of Heritage Park. He was one of the most honest and efficient individuals I have known and he did an outstanding job as manager of the Park. Our sincere regrets to you and your family. Sincerely, Bill & Duffy Davis

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  33. God bless you, Rick. It seems so long ago when you invited us to the Wainright the night before Dolly and I got married. We have never forgotten.

    Be strong, Erica.

    Pat King

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  34. Erica and family, I was saddened to read that Rick had passed away. I have fond memories of him at Heritage Park ,the Calgary Stampede and visiting Quebec City as part of the Exchange committee. He was a very proud Calgarian and will be missed. Please accept my sincerest condolences.

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  35. Marnie Sholdice

    So sorry to hear this news. Volunteered for Rick at Heritage Park, and with him on the Historical Committee at the Stampede. Loved his sense of humour, especially when he helped out with the Minutes. I kept copies of some, just for the chuckle. He will be missed.
    With sympathy,
    Marnie Sholdice

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