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[GreenYes] Fwd: Rick Best Obituary

From Sacramento Bee today:

Obituary: Rejoicing in life or recycling, Rick Best did it with vigor
By Ted Bell -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 a.m. PST Monday, December 16, 2002

Rick Best, a force in legislative campaigns to support recycling and other environmental issues, and the axle of one of the Capitol's more eclectic social circles, has died at the age of 32.

Mr. Best had pneumonia, one of the complications he suffered following a July traffic accident. He died Wednesday at Sutter General Hospital.

A paraplegic since birth, Mr. Best led a fast-paced life, fast enough to leave many others panting to keep up, friends and family members said Friday.

He had been policy director of Californians Against Waste, an organizer and president of the national Grass Roots Recycling Network and legislative adviser to Fred Keeley when Keeley was speaker pro tem of the state Assembly.

Mr. Best was also an avid skier, wheelchair racer and community activist. He was a frequent competitor in the Eppie's Great Race and headed the board of directors of the Chalk It Up to Sacramento festival, the chalk art festival held every Labor Day in Sacramento's Fremont Park.

He was a gleeful and unapologetic baseball fanatic who would speed off on cross-country trips, stopping at every city with a major league team.

The combination of his diverse interests and what friends say was a remarkable talent for organizing and leadership helped establish a vibrant circle of friends.

"He had an incredible network of friends," said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste. "He was a master organizer of anything from the annual waffle festival held in his home to national recycling alliances."

"He was very outgoing, but had an inner peace that was remarkable," said his brother Chris. "Growing up, the world didn't seem quite ready for him, but when his peers matured, he really blossomed."

Mr. Best was born in Thousand Oaks, the son of an aerospace engineer and a homemaker. His father, Skip Best, said his son attended mainstream schools all his life, often the first seriously disabled person to attend them.

"He did everything his brothers did, pretty much," his father said. "He didn't do it the same way, but he did it."

Mr. Best earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. His interest in waste reduction and recycling issues began when he chaired the campus recycling coalition.

"Initially, he was going to design different things for the handicapped, but then he decided that was too narrow. ... He wanted to tackle the whole environment," Skip Best said.

Mr. Best came to Sacramento as an intern for Californians Against Waste, and within a decade developed a reputation as one of the state's leading experts and lobbyists for recycling projects and legislation.

"He was wonderfully talented," said Keeley, for whom Mr. Best went to work as environmental director in 2001. "He knew the subject very, very well. He had a voracious appetite for details. People knew immediately that when he spoke to them about something, he really knew what he was talking about."

In 2000, Mr. Best was named Recycler of the Year by the California Resource Recovery Association.

He is survived by his parents, Skip and Barb Best of Thousand Oaks, and his brothers, Phil of England, Tim of Santa Cruz, Dave, of Arcata, and Chris of Leucadia.

A celebration of Mr. Best's life will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Central Library Galleria, 828 I St [Sacramento].
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The Bee's Ted Bell can be reached at (916) 321-1071 or
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Copyright The Sacramento Bee / ver. 4

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485

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