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This Man's Obituary Raises a Lot of Surprising Questions

Getty Images / Ricardolr

How should those who knew Rick Stein remember him?

Hands down one of the very best obituaries I've ever read — and I read a lot of them — is for Rick Stein, a Colorado restaurateur. Or was he a jeweler? A YouTube superstar? A sports columnist? A sommelier?

Stein's obituary is gripping from the first few sentences:

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…

If you're tantalized by that mysterious opening, read on, because it just gets better and better — and don't stop before you get to the final paragraphs. It's a clever and creative obituary that ends on an emotional high note. It's likely to leave you wishing you knew Rick Stein.

(Leave your condolences for Rick Stein's loved ones here.)

UPDATE: October 12

I didn’t think this obituary could get any better, but I was wrong. As more and more people have read the unforgettable tribute to Rick Stein, they have offered their own tributes in the Guest Book. And those tributes build – and build and build – on the mythology Stein’s family created. It all started with the Guest Book’s very first entry:

My fondest memory of Mr. Stein, who I knew as Professor Juan DeRoad, was taking his class at Universidad de Sevilla on early Spanish cartographers. Best professor ever!

More stories began to flood in, offering glimpses of Stein’s life as a man of action…

I am forever in Rick's debt. Our lives crossed paths back in 86' when he was still valeting for Jacques Cousteau. We were on a dive off the coast of Baja shooting episode 4 of Cousteau's Rediscovery of the World: Legacy of Cortez. I was filming Jacques petting a nurse shark when all of a sudden a 20' great white came out of nowhere and bit me from behind. Without hesitation Rick gave the shark an uppercut that was so swift and strong it knocked the shark out cold, dropping it to the sea floor. After neutralizing the killer shark Rick then quickly realized that it had punctured a hole in my air tank. Rick used his chewing gum and a piece of my wetsuit to stop the leak and helped me swim back to the boat. I would have been shark food if it wasn't for his god like reflexes and strength. Cheers Rick!!

…And of his compassionate heart for animals…

I met Rick in New Orleans, just after Katrina in August, 2005. He had come specifically to help with the rescue of house pets he was afraid would be forgotten in all the confusion of those days. I met him at a bar in Treme the night after he'd arrived. He had a hamster in his pocket and a grey parrot on his shoulder, and he asked me if I would like to help in the morning with the search and hopeful rescue of a bear which had been kept as a pet by a local beautician. I'm eternally grateful I said yes! Rick was one hell of a guy.

…And of one special skill his obit failed to mention…

I met Rick the summer of '89 while he and I crossed paths free climbing the Diamond on Long's Peak. A wonderful guy and terrific yodeler! He will be missed by many.

He was a man of mystery…

I met Rick in 1979 in Pensacola FL. We stood in the Piggly Wiggly and struck up a conversation about the lack of real hoagies in the south. He seemed out of place in that tux but was friendly enough as he went outside, climbed into an Aston Martin, and disappeared up the road. I never knew who that stranger was until I saw his picture on this write-up. He'll be missed.

…And a songwriter…

Wonderful to wrap up one's life by bringing joy and a smile to thousands (ultimately millions?) of people who never had the pleasure of meeting him. My condolences to his wife, kids, family and friends. Now about that $10,000 he owed me for co-writing Boogie Oogie Oogie with him when we were shipwrecked off the coast of Luxembourg while in the French Foreign Legion in 1974...

Oh, and he had one particularly important job…

I will always fondly remember the esteemed honor of being asked to time travel with President Stein, as he is known from January 20, 2037 onward. We had so many laughs zipping across the Time Space Continuum. I will never forget the look on Michelangelo's face when Rick strolled up to him and said, "I think your work is substandard." There was a tense silence for a moment until Rick gave him a wink. There was much laughter and wine that night, I'll tell you. In all seriousness, it sounds like you are an amazing guy. Thanks for the memories, Mr. President, especially the ones we altered. God Bless. Your friend in time, Jim, US Secretary of Quantum Travels ~ 2037 - 1852.

There are more stories to read about Mr. Stein – dozens more. Visit his Guest Book to read them all… and maybe to share the tale of your own encounter with the mysterious Rick Stein.