Richard John Graves

Richard John Graves

February 16, 1955- August 5, 2008

On August 5, 2008 our gregarious angel went home in a fashion that all of us left behind would describe as premature. Rick always said “I just want to be remembered as a good person.” Certainly every soul that had the pleasure of crossing paths with him would agree that he was successful in accomplishing that. 

Ricky was born in Winnipeg and was raised by George and Doreen Graves. It is easy for those close to him to assume that he was born with a guitar in tow! He grew up in the West End of Winnipeg where he formed several deep childhood friendships that would carry him throughout his life. Ricky’s exceptional talent as a musician was evident right from the beginning. He loved so many musicians; The Beatles, The Beat Farmers and everything in between. Ricky was famous for expressing his dislike for female vocalists but he always had a soft spot in his heart for Janis Joplin. By the time he was in high school he head already spearheaded several bands and had begun amassing his collection of guitars. Ricky played with so may amazing musicians over the years that it would be impossible to list them all. He played with many bands, most memorably County Line through which he made more lifelong friends. After high school many of his band mates grew up and left the province. Eventually, Rick met and married Suzie and they moved to Ontario. The Graves’ home in Aurora was a safe haven that many friends enjoyed visiting over the years. Music was played, whiskeys were poured (Ricky style: heavy on the whiskey and light on the coke…) and laughter filled the air at every moment. Lucky visitors also enjoyed nighttime cuddling with Lefty, Shaker and Clyde. Rick and Sue had an incredible friendship and filled their home with love! 

In between hosting the onslaught of visiting renegade Winnipeggers, Ricky kept himself busy playing, writing and listening to music. Music was his life force. Eventually he expanded his guitar collection to over 15 pieces, particularly favouring both his Gretsch and the bass he built from scratch. Ricky could not tolerate idle hands and had no time in his life for laziness. He lived for the weekends in Dauphin at Country Fest and could not wait to get the trailer hitched and go! He kept himself overly busy and assumed the role as the group’s activator. He would fly into town unannounced and instantly demand that everyone gather for a party. And, God willing, you were one of the lucky ones to be invited! Ricky’s spontaneous nature was a recurring theme in his life. He had a passion for road travel, preferably on two wheels. He enjoyed many trips to different bike rallies and even ventured as far as Mexico. He made many road trips on 4 wheels as well but he was most passionate about his 2001 Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glide. He was also passionate about doing things independently. Sadly, these two opposing traits clashed when he chose to paint his bike himself. A few dollars and a few weeks later the Harley was back in action and ready to take the next curve in the road. He enjoyed motorcycling with countless fellow friends and riders. Rick had many other passions as well. Ironically enough he was both a diabetic and closet ice cream aficionado. His only trauma upon moving to Toronto was leaving behind Gondola Pizza. Thankfully he had loving friends who would take an extra large “Boss” on the plane with them when they came to visit. Depending on the friend who had assumed delivery duty, the occasional pizza would show up with a slice or two missing…. 

Ricky was also a literal genius. He had a deeply analytical mind and he had the capacity to troubleshoot any problem imaginable. He could figure out problems with PA equipment just as easily as he could decipher intricate mathematical equations. This is why it was so easy for us to forgive him for constantly jumbling up the words to “The Weight”. Ricky embraced technology while the rest of us old-school types were just plain puzzled with the information age. He helped many of us to accept, understand and (begrudgingly) embrace the advances of the last decade. He also had a love for all things old. His collections of unique and classic antiques were showpieces as well as a source of fun conversation. He believed in appreciating the past and holding on to history. Ricky could not comprehend the meaning of the word moderation and that was part of his charm. Everything was large-scale and over the top and all of his friends surely envied him for this. Nothing was ever too much and he was the one friend everyone knew would give the figurative shirt off his back.  Rick also had a penchant for shopping but he would never admit to it! He was a true male shopaholic whose impulse spending was guided by both his intense need for “stuff” and his intense need to give all that he could to his friends. He was extremely generous and all of the lovely souls he embraced into his closely-knit inner circle can attest to that. 

Ricky was wholly and completed devoted to caring for Suzie when she struggled with cancer. He showed exceptional strength when she succumbed to her illness in 2004. Ricky was deeply thankful for family and for the friendships he made over the course of his life as his friends provided him with strength after Suzie’s passing. A short while later, in own inimitable Gyspy style, Ricky moved to Moosomin to live with Gina. This is where he created The Boot Hill Ranch. He found comfort there, making many treasured memories. He thoroughly enjoyed having enough space to have all of the animals he always dreamed of. He became proficient at caring for horses and looked after his family of dogs and stray cats like no other could. Ricky took it upon himself to liven up the music scene in Moosomin. He offered music lessons and went to local hotspots and introduced karaoke. Oftentimes he would show up by himself with a guitar and entertain a crowd of devoted Ricky fans. 

Eventually, Ricky’s heart was compelled to return to his stomping grounds in Winnipeg. After a difficult few years of being a caregiver to Suzie he was fortunate enough to meet Joni, who would return the favour and the love and become the ultimate caregiver for him. During Rick’s brief struggle with cancer he never complained about his situation. He took it like a man, still found energy to go fishing and was so thankful that he had Joni by his side. A spiritual connection was made when they crossed paths and we will be forever grateful to Joni for all that she did for her “groovy guy”. The love was there the moment they met and Rick carried that with him until his last breath. 

We all wish to sincerely thank the team at Riverview Health Centre. Your compassion, soulfulness and kindness has been appreciated more than words can express. This newspaper does not have enough ink to list all of Ricky’s treasured friends. You know who you are. 

A celebration of Ricky’s life took place on Monday August 11, 2008 at 2:00pm at the Eagles Club in Winnipeg. 

In lieu of flowers, we respectfully request that donations be made to either The Winnipeg Humane Society or Riverview Health Centre. 

“Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.”-Hunter S. Thompson 

Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler in care of arrangements.

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