Richard Leo

  • "I am deeply saddened to hear of Rick's passing and my..."
    - Andrew Celentano
  • "Rick is my cousin. As a child and teen, when I would find..."
  • "Good by ric. Rest in peace."
    - Ben Camera
  • "I met Rick about 25 years ago in Anchorage, when he would..."
    - Brooks Wood
  • "I knew Rick years ago in high school and remember him as..."
    - Michele Kroeger

Rick Leo spent the first years of his life in the suburbs outside of Chicago. Even here, he sought out what pockets of natural beauty he could find -untended fields, small stands of trees, "the crick." He was driven by an innate love for the earth that was never taught. It came from within. His gang of friends called him Father Explorer.

Briefly flirting with the possibility of success as defined by western culture (a Harvard education, advertising job in Manhattan), Rick chose to follow his dreams rather than convention. He bought a one way ticket to Anchorage, hitchhiked up to the Susitna Valley, and homesteaded here in the early 80's. He found a world that he truly loved, and immeasurable successes on his own terms. He raised three sons, and was a father figure to the local kids. He told his story of life on the remote homestead in countless articles and two books:Edges of the Earth and Way OutHere.

For decades Rick worked to keep the South Denali wilderness undeveloped and as pristine as he'd found it. At the time of his death he was actively working to keep the Susitna River wild by opposing the Watana/Susitna dam. Rick would want the website mentioned,, as that effort continues after his death.

He was a teacher, friend, father, husband, and adventurer. From walking alone across the Tibetan Plateau to soloing Denali to sailing through New Zealand to countless other adventures and experiences, Rick's life is an example to us all of a life well lived. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him and by the land itself - the home he loved so much.

Rick is survived by three sons, Janus, Forrest, and Krister, daughter-in-law Amanda; and by his mother Dolores, brother John, sister Wendy, niece Ariel, nephews Paul and Adrian, and ex-wives Michele and Lucia. A gathering to celebrate Rick's life will be held at NSI in Talkeetna on Friday, January 3rd, at 3 p.m. Donations in his memory may be made to the RCL Homestead Preservation Fund, Wells Fargo, Wasilla.

Published in Anchorage Daily News from Jan. 3 to Jan. 4, 2014