■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
Marc Anthony in his tribute to Julius Caesar said, “The evil men do lives after them; the good in man is oft interred with his bones.” No such statement was ever applied to the late Richard “Rick” Truskowski. From every man or woman who knew him, he was known as the most generous and kind human being they ever met.
Rick was a character from the past, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Rob Lindquist—remembering all the years he knew Rick from the time he opened True Value Hardware Store on Florida Avenue near Yale Street—saw Rick as the neighborhood go-to man for your problems whether they be plumbing or personal. “A gentleman with the biggest heart in Riverside County,” said Lindquist.
Rick’s wife, Carolyn, remembers how proud he was to own the hardware store. “That store was his life,” said Carolyn. “He loved spending time with his customers and being in the store from opening to closing every day.”
“He made sure that every customer was greeted and given personal attention,” said Kevin Speir. “He was extremely conscious of his community and being a part of it.”
Rick was always the first to volunteer his services and money to any worthwhile cause. No one has ever been more patriotic or held the flag in higher esteem. He never ran out of American flags.
Patricia Yepremian, co-owner of Destination Coffee Bar and Bistro, remembers she casually mentioned to someone that she needed a new flag for the outside garden area of the business. It just so happens that Rick overheard.
“Rick showed up the next day with a flag and told me that if I ever needed to replace the flag, to give him a call,” said Patricia.
As for Christmas, Patricia’s husband, Krikor, recalled a touching story about the downtown Christmas celebration. “One year, he showed up with more than 100 large teddy bears for the kids.” That’s just one of many stories attached to Rick’s generosity.
Patricia added, “He had the most amazing ability to reach out to those in need in this community.”
Carolyn recalls how proud he was to donate a Christmas tree for the Harvard Street Hometown Christmas event. Rick did not anger easily, but when this past Christmas someone trimmed branches from the tree, he did not hesitate to let it be known that he did not appreciate the tampering. His dedication of the tree read:
“Let this tree serve as a living reminder of what can be accomplished by a community of good people, generous businesses, and a horse named Bob.”
Rick operated his business in the old-fashioned way. He trusted his customers. If you needed to charge an item because you were short of money, no problem. He extended credit to anyone with an honest face.
I remember an incident in the store. A young man started to leave the store with an item he hadn’t paid for. Someone said, “Call the police.”
Rick said, “Wait a minute. Son, why did you take that without paying for it?”
The boy explained that he needed the tool to fix a leak in the kitchen sink. Rick said, “Go on home and fix your sink, but the next time you need something here and can’t afford it, ask me. You don’t have to steal in my store.”
Where did this giant of a human being come from?
He grew up and was educated in Buffalo, New York. In 1974, he graduated from Frontier High School. An outstanding athlete, he excelled at basketball and soccer. He holds the record of 45 points in a single basketball game. The local newspaper described his performance as, “The finest effort by a Frontier ball player ever.”
That year, he was named Athlete of the Year in several publications. His name is enshrined to the state Basketball Hall of Fame.
He attended Hobart College and went on to Canisius College in Buffalo, where he earned an undergraduate degree in marketing.
I visited his home recently to interview his wife, Carolyn, for this article. She explained his love for animals. He partnered with local attorney David Angeloff and Marcus Menjivar in the ownership of a racehorse named Bob Consultation, named after former Press Enterprise columnist Bob Pratte.
His dogs, Brownie and Magic, seem to know their master is gone. Brownie, who was looking forlorn, was cuddled up on the lounge where he and Rick often cuddled together. The animal seemed to understand that something was missing in his life.
Someone very important to our community is gone, but his heart and goodness remain as an example for us.
Was Rick a man for all men? You bet.
A celebration of life will be held at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 8 at the Hemet High School Theatre, 41701 Stetson Ave., Hemet. Please no black attire.