Craig Anthony Ricker succumbed to complications associated with Colon Cancer on the night of August 29th in Orange County, California. Intellectual, adventurer, provocateur, professional photographer, published author, tour guide, bartender, brother, uncle and friend. He lived a free and full life without the constraints and responsibilities of the mundane that slow most people down.
He had that classic “American Thing”; unquestionable confidence in himself and a constant belief that tomorrow would be a better day. He was part beach bum and part coffee house intellectual who devoured books and loved knowledge. Built on the powerful frame of a champion wrestler, Craig was rugged, had grit but also poise. He survived by doing things he loved but also with the occasional support of an expansive group of close friends.
A gifted story-teller and conversationalist, he could keep any room engaged for hours with colorful narratives interlaced with history, literature, political theory, conspiracy, a smattering of hyperbole and of course humor. The occasional inappropriate joke was told with such jest and skill that even a "Feminist Trotskyite from the US Department of State" would be defenseless and prone to breaking down in laughter.
Born on September 9th, 1964, Craig was the last of six brothers and sisters in a middle class family in Southern California. He grew up in the sunshine, orchards and the blue waters of Laguna Beach enjoying spear fishing, diving from the coastal rocks, and body surfing. He got his first taste of adventure on 4,500 mile, 53-day bike ride around America when he was a teenager.
He left what likely would have been a comfortable existence in California for Moscow in 1991 where he quickly shunned money and material possession to instead focus on living, understanding Russian culture and explaining how it was affected by the recent experiment with Communism. It was an eventful life that took him to the far reaches of the former Soviet Union and lasted until 2015 when he was deported for accidentally overstaying his visa.
His experiences in Russia were varied. He bored of business in the early 1990s when fortunes were being made and instead spent a few years enjoying life as a night manager of the notorious Hungry Duck in Moscow. Lifelong friendships were cemented, stories were gathered and some walking around money was made but life behind a bar was not for him.
Next came the Russian regions as an escape from the crowds of Moscow, he purchased a home up the Volga for $75 (which later sold for $50 blaming the loss on the housing crisis) on a collective farm in the Kostroma oblast, the ancient birthplace of the Romanovs the second and last Czarist Dynasty to rule Russia. He spent two years living with his faithful dog Bob, working with the locals, and enjoying the Russian seasons (at one point pulling his own tooth after being snow bound and surviving on apples for weeks one Summer when money ran out).
Rumor had Craig voted the most popular person in Kostroma (twice) by a local paper where he relocated after leaving the farm and where he remained a resident for over a decade. He became a central community figure, focusing on photography and writing his novel ‘Stroma” a thriller set in Russia’s transition period of the early 1990s which was published in 2015, While being deported, Craig befriended his guards at the local detention Centre who allowed him out for walks and said even they were sad to see him leave the country. He was fortunate to return to Laguna Beach, one of the most beautiful coastal communities in California. Being home, close to family and friends, he could again swim in the ocean which he did almost every day until his death.
Craig is survived by his fiance, a sister, brothers, nieces and nephews, and close friends from many nations and all walks of life. He reminded everyone there is an alternative path to wealth and success not measured by title or assets but through knowledge, friendship, good humor and adventure.