Riders remember Rick
HANALEI — If you ask 10 people what Rick Proczka meant to them, you may get 10 different answers. However, there would be a couple of common themes — he was generous, compassionate and dedicated.
More than 100 people gathered at Hanalei Bay on an overcast Tuesday evening to pay homage to the fallen surfer, also known as Waimea Rick, who lost his life on Feb. 9 at the age of 64 while surfing at Hanalei Bay.
A full rainbow of emotions were on display Tuesday, from tears of a tragic loss to laughter in remembrance of the legendary surfer.
Friends and family prepared to paddle out for a floating memorial to honor Proczka as a friend, father, brother, husband and mentor.
“I wanted to pay respect to a person who liked to spread the word,” said Dale Longworth, a friend who shared the same religious beliefs as Proczka. “He was very mellow, and I wouldn’t mind going out with his legacy at the end.”
A small service was held at the shoreline for family members and close friends to give thanks and say a few words about Proczka.
“Rick gave out a lot of love while he was here, and now it’s coming back in all of you,” Andrzej Proczka, Rick’s son, said to the crowd. “He had a lot of respect for everyone he was able to connect with. … I just want people to live with truer aloha, because that’s what he wanted.”
When the memorial concluded, about 100 surfers paddled out a hundred yards from the shoreline and formed a circle in front of the Hanalei Pier. They sat on their boards and bobbed on top of the water while holding hands. A quiet hush fell over spectators as tourists gathered to watch from the pier.
The silence was broken when the men and women in the water began pounding their boards, splashing water and yelling encouraging messages.
“He was my brother,” said Titus Kinimaka, a musician and surf legend. “I have known Rick for 40 years. I named him Waimea Rick. He was a great surfer and a sweet, sweet man.”
Louise Sausen, who led a prayer before heading out into the ocean, said it was very special to have everyone come out, and that it was really for the people to gain some closure.
“When my brother had cancer, (Rick) would come visit him every Saturday,” Sausen said. “He came to spread the word of God, and just let him know that he was going to the kingdom of heaven, that’s just the kind of person he was.”