Rick Karpinsky, A Giver (February 4, 1957-August 13, 2015)

Hello! This is just a quick thought on the passing of a great friend to ISLE, Purple Cat, and Golden String, Rick Karpinsky. Rick passed away on August 13, 2015. I was floored. Rick had just worked as a Purple Cat driver less than 36 hours before his passing. But it wasn’t just the sudden nature of his death that alarmed me, the real gravity of the situation was the thought of replacing him. How do you replace a kindness giant? For that’s what he was, a giant of kindness. Our motto around here is, “Givin’ is Livin”. It wasn’t just a motto for Rick, it was a way of life. I surmise that he had been following that motto for many years.

Rick was a giver. He was famous around town for always bringing Milk Bones on his routes and throwing them out to neighborhood dogs along the way. I once met a man from Poland, who upon hearing that I worked for the Purple Cat, looked a bit puzzled and then said (as the shock of recognition registered) “Oh the Purple Cat! One of your vans drives down my street! My dog goes bananas every morning at 7:30am because he wants out. At first, I didn’t know why, then I realized your driver was throwing bones in my yard at that time! Rick influenced other drivers to do the same.

Rick was kind to all creatures, but his real forte was kindness to our clients with disabilities. Rick often would bring in special treats such as candy or something from Burger King for his clients on his route or when he worked for Golden String. When working certain Golden String activities, Rick would stop at Burger King and buy many extra cheeseburgers and fries, not knowing who he was even going to give them to. It didn’t matter to him. He exalted in just giving them away. I was often a recipient. As was, his friend, neighbor, and Golden String pal, Jeff Thomas. Jeff is still heartbroken about Rick’s passing.

Rick was always available in an emergency to pick someone up or to fill in for another staff person or driver. More than once when a wheelchair van broke down, I called Rick to get a van and come pick up the individuals in wheelchairs. He always obliged. How do you find another person like that? Someone who puts others first and is safe, kind, and gentle? To me, Rick met the biblical definition of “meek”: someone who chooses to put others first and not say a word about it. Someone who delights in others and in service. Rick, I miss you man. So do a whole host of others who may not have a loud voice due to their disabilities. Cheers to you, Rick, wherever you are! You are a hero to the meek and an inspiration to me.

Jimmy Sutman 11/2/15

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