As a fitting tribute to the prank-loving Rick Stein on the occasion of his death, his daughter Alex Walsh took some creative liberties in his honor. Then things got really ridiculous, swelling into a funny and moving tribute to the power of a life irreverently lived.
“A daughter’s hilarious obituary unravels her father’s mysterious life. You have to read to the end to get it.”
by Allison Klein
October 11, 2018
The Washington Post
The obituary that ran last week in Delaware Online is a mystery, the tale of a globe-trotting Renaissance man who disappeared in a single-engine plane over the Atlantic Ocean after learning he had cancer.
It was written by Alex Walsh about her father, Rick Stein, 71, a man who she said had an endless appetite for comedy. The huge response on social media has been comfort to the mourning family, she said, as people who never knew her father have been sending condolences by the dozens.
“All of this is bittersweet,” Walsh, 45, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
The obituary begins:
“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. Security footage shows Stein leaving the building at approximately 3:30 Thursday afternoon, but then the video feed mysteriously cuts off.
“Authorities say they believe Stein took an Uber to the Philadelphia airport where they assume he somehow gained access to the aircraft. ‘The sea was angry that day,’ said NTSB lead investigator Greg Fields in a news conference. ‘We have no idea where Mr. Stein may be, but any hope for a rescue is unlikely.”’
Walsh, 45, a former television news writer in Washington, D.C., then goes on to detail both mundane and extraordinary achievements in her father’s life, saying “It seems no one in his life knew his exact occupation.”
“He owned restaurants in Boulder, Colorado and knew every answer on Jeopardy. He did the New York Times crossword in pen. I talked to him that day and he told me he was going out to get some grappa. All he ever wanted was a glass of grappa.”
She quotes Stein’s brother as saying Stein couldn’t have been a pilot; the two owned a jewelry and Oriental rug gallery together. His sister says she thought Stein was a cartoonist and freelance television critic for the New Yorker.
Then the rest of the family weighs in… Read more.