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Rick Stein: A Man for All Seasons and My Kind of Guy
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Rick Stein: A Man for All Seasons and My Kind of Guy

For a very long time, I have claimed that the way I wanted to go was simple: “I’d like to be more than 80 years old, a respected man in my community, and I want to shoot it out in the woods with Federal Agents.” For a long time that was a weak joke. These daze it is not quite so funny as it once was.

Today, my colleague at Never Yet Melted points me at a new obit, one that outlines the kind of life we’d all like to live and a way, or ways, of leaving it all good men would find, if not inspiring,  at least attractive.

 Rick Stein, 71, of Wilmington was reported missing and presumed dead on September 27, 2018, when investigators say the single-engine plane he was piloting, The Northrop, suddenly lost communication with air traffic control and disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Philadelphia police confirm Stein had been a patient at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where he was being treated for a rare form of cancer. Hospital spokesman Walter Heisenberg says doctors from Stein’s surgical team went to visit him on rounds when they discovered his room was empty. Security footage shows Stein leaving the building at approximately 3:30 Thursday afternoon, but then the video feed mysteriously cuts off. Authorities say they believe Stein took an Uber to the Philadelphia airport where they assume he somehow gained access to the aircraft.

“The sea was angry that day,” said NTSB lead investigator Greg Fields in a press conference. “We have no idea where Mr. Stein may be, but any hope for a rescue is unlikely.”

Stein’s location isn’t the only mystery. It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation.

His daughter, Alex Walsh of Wilmington appeared shocked by the news. “My dad couldn’t even fly a plane. He owned restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and knew every answer on Jeopardy. He did the New York Times crossword in pen. I talked to him that day and he told me he was going out to get some grappa. All he ever wanted was a glass of grappa.”

Stein’s brother, Jim echoed similar confusion. “Rick and I owned Stuart Kingston Galleries together. He was a jeweler and oriental rug dealer, not a pilot.” Meanwhile, Missel Leddington of Charlottesville claimed her brother was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for the New Yorker.

David Walsh, Stein’s son-in-law, said he was certain Stein was a political satirist for the Huffington Post while grandsons Drake and Sam said they believed Stein wrote an internet sports column for ESPN covering Duke basketball, FC Barcelona soccer, the Denver Broncos, and the Tour de France. Stein’s granddaughter Evangeline claims he was a YouTube sensation who had just signed a seven-figure deal with Netflix.

When told of his uncle’s disappearance, Edward Stein said he was baffled since he believed Stein worked as a trail guide in Rocky Mountain National Park. “He took me on a hike up the Lily Peak Trail back in the 90s. He knew every berry, bush and tree on that trail.” Nephew James Stein of Los Angeles claimed his uncle was an A&R consultant for Bad Boy records and ran a chain of legal recreational marijuana dispensaries in Colorado called Casablunta. Niece Courtney Stein, a former Hollywood agent, said her uncle had worked as a contributing writer for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm and was currently consulting on a new series with Larry David.

People who knew Stein have reported his occupation as everything from gourmet chef and sommelier to botanist, electrician, mechanic and even spy novelist. Police say the volume of contradictory information will make it nearly impossible to pinpoint Stein’s exact location.

In fact, the only person who might be able to answer the question, who is the real Rick Stein is his wife and constant companion for the past 14 years, Susan Stein. Detectives say they were unable to interview Mrs. Stein, however, neighbors say they witnessed her leaving the home the couple shared wearing dark sunglasses and a fedora, loading multiple suitcases into her car. FAA records show she purchased a pair of one-way tickets to Rome which was Mr. Stein’s favorite city. An anonymous source with the airline reports the name used to book the other ticket was Juan Morefore DeRoad, which, according to the FBI, was an alias Stein used for many years.

That is one story.

Another story is that Rick never left the hospital and died peacefully with his wife and his daughter holding tightly to his hands.

You can choose which version you want to believe or share your own story about Rick with us at the Greenville Country Club on Friday, November 9, 2018 from 3:00-6:00pm.

HT: Never Yet Melted Good Obituary

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • BillH October 11, 2018, 9:52 AM

    Obviously someone who lived his life the way he wanted. If he’s dead, he just as obvously died with a satisfied mind. That’s all anyone can ask for.

  • Rob De Witt October 11, 2018, 11:54 AM

    I’m with BillH, but…. Walter Heisenberg?

  • AmericusMagnus October 11, 2018, 12:48 PM

    This guy sat next to me on a flight over the Rocky Mountains several years ago. Next thing I know, the rear cargo door opens and out he goes with a parachute… and a brief case.

  • ghostsniper October 11, 2018, 2:03 PM

    I saw the name and scrolled down and saw the pik and confirmed my first thought. I know that guy. He was an associate architect at the last architecture firm I worked at in Florida, which also happened to be the largest form in the state, Watson & Company. The pik is of Rick and his oldest daughter Emma. When I worked with Rick in 1985-86 Emma was about 10, so she’s about 42 today. He and I worked together on the Tampa Bay Pirates Stadium and the extension to the Southwest Regional Airport (which I hauled baserock on when I worked briefly for Southern Sand & Stone, driving a 21 yard tractor dump in late 1980). I remember specifically a situation where I came to the conclusion that Rick was unable to visualize in 3d and I had to pick up his slack a few times. The situation in mind concerned several areas in a historic restoration project we worked on where a new air conditioning system was being installed in Ricks preliminary sketches the return air ducts were intersected by structural beams that helped support the 80′ tall bell tower. I was assigned to checking his sketches and pointed this out and he immediately dismissed my claim with a wave of his hand, looked at his watch and said, “I’m going to lunch”. I skipped lunch and roughed up some quick isometrics of that area and redlined some trash paper overlays and put them on Ricks drawing board, then went to lunch myself. When I got back to the office, maybe 2:30, the overlays were on my drawing board and in big red letters it said, “FUCK YOU MR KNOW IT ALL!” I went to Ricks office with the sketches in hand and when I entered his back was turned to me and I remember China Grove was playing on the radio. I said, “Hey Rick….”, and he whipped around in his chair and jumped up and got in my face. “You think you’re such a smart ass don’t you, you always think you’re better than everyone else!” “Well I’ll tell you what mister, I don’t give a shit what you think. If you want to run that ductwork like you’re stupid little sketches show then go ahead and do it, but you can just go tell Rich (Rich Davis the project superintendent) that you are now the new project manager and I’m off the case.” Hilda, the administrative assistant came in and said, What are you boy’s arguing about?” She was smoking a cig and Rick can’t stand the smoke and told her to haul ass and she did. I told Rick I didn’t want to be the PM on the St Anthony’s church (the oldest church in Florida) as I already had 4 projects I was working on and was only supposed to check his designs and that was what I did. I also told him that if my suggestions weren’t to his level then just sign off on them and move on like normal. He just stood there glaring at me. I got sort of a cold chill from his stare and turned and went back to my office and thought about this incident.

    The next day I was in my office when a fellow architect, Guy, came in and asked if I heard about Rick and I said, “No, what’s up?” Guy said Rich told him that morning that Rick called him at home last night and resigned effective immediately. He wasn’t even going to come back into the office and get his equipment. No one ever heard from him again. Even though that picture, with the wine glass, is fairly recent Rick is easily identified in it. In the lower picture he looks much older and is less recognizable to me. I just did a check with the AIA national database and Rick hasn’t been a registered member since 1990.

  • Missy October 11, 2018, 3:35 PM

    Met him in Rehoboth when I was 15 and he was 16. He worked in the family auction house and zipped around on the beach in a Jeep. Very cool. I bought some jewelry from him in at his auction house then in Wilmington when I was in my 40s. Charming, lively guy. The real story, as far as I am concerned, is this:

  • pbird October 11, 2018, 9:52 PM

    A.Magnus, that was the Cascades, not the Rockies dude.

  • H October 12, 2018, 9:08 AM

    From time-to-time I’ve toyed with the idea of writing my own obituary, leaving the date and cause of death blank, because most read obituaries like stale horse shit.

    But I’ve abandoned that thought now, because no way I could write half that well, so stale horse shit it is. You can read about it in the paper…….

  • ray mota October 12, 2018, 5:19 PM

    I’m not worthy! to emulate Mr. Stein. Wish I was. He is The Guy i aspire to be and be gone.

  • Ray October 12, 2018, 5:22 PM

    MY last will, Testament, and Obit runs 120 pages. I’m working on the second chapter. If you can’t lie about everything you ever wanted after you’re dead, when you can’t be sued or smeared – well, all I can say is -WHAT’S RONGK wiff Youze ???

  • ray October 12, 2018, 5:24 PM

    Gotta add one mores.

    Seems Baron von MunchHausen (sp) got NOTHING on this guy. We should all be so lucky.

  • Antibubba October 14, 2018, 6:19 AM


  • Haxo Angmark October 15, 2018, 4:05 PM

    I met Rick Stein while bike messengering in NYC, 14 August 1984. He dropped a cash-stuffed money-belt while crossing the street @ 7th Ave. and 34th. I yelled out to him…but he just smiled and walked away. When I looked back the money belt was gone too.