A true LEGEND has passed! Jimmie LeRoy Ryczek was born June 1, 1942 at St. Francis Hospital in Santa Barbara. His childhood was spent in both California and Illinois. He attended school in Porterville, CA and then returned home to his beloved S.B.
Jimmie grew up on the Mesa in Santa Barbara, which he considered his “turf”. He knew practically everyone and was known to many as “The Mayor of the Mesa.” He was independent and resourceful, having memorized and mastered the MTD bus schedules, riding his bicycle or walking, Jimmie set off on adventures from Carpinteria to Goleta and everywhere in between. To Jimmie, there was no such thing as a “stranger”. He made friends everywhere he went. His unconditional love of everyone he met, was truly an inspiration.
Jimmie helped his dad, and great friend Benji Cheverez with job site clean-up in the family’s plastering business. Chester, Benji and Jimmie were known to load up and head to Mexico for some amazing fishing adventures. While in Mexico Jimmie developed a taste for lobster, very affordable in Mexico, but his frugal dad said Jimmie ordered lobster every time they went out for dinner state-side at exuberant prices.
Jimmie’s parents, Uncle Bob, several other parents and local businesses were instrumental in donating materials and labor in the actual establishment and building of Alpha School. It was amazing how that building went up as a community effort. Jimmie excelled with many happy years at Alpha.
Jimmie continued to thrive as he worked and was benefitted by several local organizations from supported employment companies such as PathPoint, Tri-Counties Regional Center, and the amazing Santa Barbara Recreation Adaptive Programs.
In 1972 Casa Omega was built, with the assistance and contribution of Jimmie’s dad. Jimmie moved into Casa Omega as one of the original six “Band of Brothers” where for 40 years, he resided, gardened, traveled, camped, fished and that was just the weekends. As part of Casa Omega, Carrie and Norman Gordon and Ernie M. Acosta as his extended family, were as close – or closer- as any biological family could ever be. The true love and care continued beyond his living at Casa Omega. Norman, Carrie and Ernie were true blessings to all the men, and especially Jimmie.
Jimmie’s love for and knowledge of classic cars was impressive. He made life-long friends with his beloved “Car Guys.” Every week Bobby Hawkins (The Hawk) and other members met up with Jimmie at Burger King and later at Chick-fil-a! Jimmie will be missed.
Due to medical needs, Jimmie moved to Hillside House. The team there not only provided excellent care, but also supported Jimmie’s independence and MTD travel throughout the community. The amazing residents and staff became yet another part of Jimmie’s extended family.
Jimmie cherished all animals, especially dogs and cats. He loved his sister’s dogs, and they loved him. When it came to presents, Jimmie delighted in “quantity” – and his sister provided bulging bags filled with wrapped goodies for him to unwrap – which he did with lightning speed. Donna took him on a vacation to Chicago to visit his cousins and he returned a Chicago Bears fan for life!
Jimmie loved bingo, going shopping, and finding treasures. His Diabetes precluded visits to his favorite fast food haunts, but he’d occasionally sneak out to Burger King, Chick-fil-a, or McDonalds. It’s a bit of comfort knowing that he passed doing what he loved best – a morning of shopping & lunch at McDonald’s.
Jimmie was predeceased by his parents, Chester & Marjorie Ryczek. He is survived by his sister, Donna Ryczek (O’Toole), his nephew Jerry O’Toole, aunt & uncle, Bob & Marilyn Ryczek, many cousins, his Casa Omega family of Norman, Carrie, Ernie & his “band of brothers”, and literally hundreds of friends throughout the Santa Barbara community.
It is impossible to know the multitudes of people, families, business owners and beyond that Jimmie loved and went to visit. To facilitate a single gathering of a Celebration of Life would no doubt require a football stadium.
In lieu of a “single” Celebration of Life, Jimmie would be greatly honored if you could gather amongst yourselves in the settings where he came to visit with you and share your “Jimmie’s stories,” in remembrance of this legendary guy.
Instead of the tradition of sending flowers or financial donations, let us honor Jimmie by continuing his Legacy. Go out and meet people, make a friend, have an adventure and make the best of what you have!
In Loving Memory- Jimmie LeRoy Ryczek – June, 1 1942 to January 29, 2019