Obituary for Richard “Ric” Ahern
On the quiet, still morning of May 31st, 2020 our inquisitive, determined and fearless husband and father rested his brilliant blue eyes after a courageous 3 month battle with cancer. He left behind his broken body and an enduring legacy of creativity, passion and contagious optimism.
Richard “Ric” Allen Ahern, 66, was born on May 8th, 1954 to Marlene (Schuelke) and Willis Ahern in Webster, SD. He was raised in Groton, SD and subsequently Rapid City, SD. He graduated from Rapid City Central High School in 1972. On September 23, 1978, he married Kristina Naylor in Rapid City, SD.
Those who knew Ric well would say that he loved to dream, loved to create and loved adventure. One of his passions was building things with his hands. An ingenious carpenter and stone mason, Ric had a penchant for undertaking building and landscaping projects few would dare to pursue. Whether or not you asked, he would share his plans for his next big project – he was insatiable in this sense. As a perpetual student he undertook pursuits such as cross country skiing, long distance running, fly fishing, mandolin and fiddle, cycling, timber framing and furniture building. He loved to adventure and would spend as much time as possible outdoors or traveling. He was most comfortable riding a tractor, wading in a river, riding a bike or climbing a mountain. In the professional realm, Ric was a renaissance man of sorts. A graduate of the former Brown Institute in Minneapolis, he began his professional life as a disc jockey, spinning records in North and South Dakota. Later in life, he entered the restaurant business, eventually owning 3 Subway restaurants in St. Paul. In addition, he worked internationally with the introduction of Subway restaurants in Europe as well as Dairy Queen restaurants across the Middle East. Following his work in the restaurant industry, his creative leadership was directed toward recreational trail development throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. During the 4 years prior to his death, he was employed by Community Energy Inc., a solar energy development company. He would talk about his work and his colleagues in the solar industry with pride and a sense of purpose and belonging. In keeping with his passion for trail development, he also became the volunteer executive director for the Flyway Trail, a bike trail system stretching along one of the most scenic sections of the Mississippi River Trail. He was instrumental in the development and recent completion of the Flyway Bridge within the first phase of this long-term endeavor. Always a visionary, he felt strongly about leaving something positive behind for future generations.
Ric met the love of his life, Kristina Ahern, in Rapid City, SD. Their children, Brianna and Jamie, were born in 1982 and 1984, respectively. They relocated to the midwest and built a home in the country to raise their children near Welch, MN. About 5 years ago the couple resettled in Maiden Rock, WI. They cared for and nurtured their property along the Rush River during his final years, building a modest barn and tiny house from scratch. He was tireless in his efforts to create, in partnership with his wife, a space for her to share her love of yoga with their community…. eventually building and establishing Santosha Center in Maiden Rock, WI. He shared his passion for being outdoors with his children. With his daughter, Brianna, he treasured distance running and ran several races alongside her. He introduced his son to fly fishing and imprinted within him a deep appreciation and respect for outdoor pursuits. Most years, the family went on an annual western fishing adventure. His love and devotion to his wife and children helped inform his own life path and the life paths of his family.
Ric would like to be remembered as a ‘simple man.’ At heart, he was a farmer from South Dakota. He believed in hard work, being kind to all, optimism, care for the natural world and investing time in meaningful pursuits. Ric had a heart for forgiveness and was welcoming and accepting. He will be sorely missed as a husband, father, son, brother and friend to many. Ric was preceded in death by his father, Willis Ahern, his stepfather Dwayne Coon and his older brother Wallace Ahern. He is survived by his wife, Kristina, of Maiden Rock WI, his daughter, Brianna of Rochester, MN and son, Jameson along with his wife, Naquita, of Salt Lake City, Utah. Other surviving family members include his mother, Marlene Coon of Nashville, TN and sister Patti Hergenreder of Nashville, TN, Jolene Shear of Clarksville, TN. Memorials are preferred in lieu of flowers can be made by visiting the Flyway Trail website, www.flywaytrail.com and clicking the donation button or by sending a check in memory of Ric to the Flyway Trail Office, PO Box 74, 111 North Main, Alma, WI 54610.
Thank you to those who donated in Ric’s memory
- Jody Slocum
- Caitlan McHugh