If you went to the St. Paul Canadiens games, there’s a good chance you bumped into Ricky.
If you went to the Lakeland Finals Rodeo, you saw Ricky behind the scenes.
Richard “Ricky” Marchenko spent several years volunteering in the community of St. Paul, but no longer, as he and his family are moving to Vegreville.
“He’s very much involved with a lot of different areas here,” said Pierre deMossiac, who originally got him involved with the Canadiens over a decade ago when he was a team manager.
At birth, Marchenko suffered brain damage causing developmental delay, but that has never stopped him. The Two Hills area man has persevered through challenges — going to vocational school in Edmonton at the age of 12 to meet his needs, finding jobs that suit him, and learning how to drive on his own — and has made an impact on those he’s been around through and through.
Coming from a family farm in Brosseau and an innate love of animals, Ricky joined the St. Paul Ag Society in 2003. As former president Andre Chamberlain says, he was always there to lend a hand for their events, with his sense of humour to boot.
“He never ever missed a meeting. He never missed anything. He always had a way of being funny, and yet not being funny,” said Chamberlain.
“He’d come to the back of the arena. And that’s where we’d always sort the cattle for the rodeo, right? There was this one time and it was as hilarious as hell. This bull was mean. This bull was basically chasing everybody up the fence and everything. And Ricky came down the middle of the alley, and the bull was coming at him, and there was blowing snot and moving dirt — everything.
“He went around Ricky like it didn’t even faze him. And Ricky just stood there and looked at him like, you know, ‘what do you want?’ And we’re all thinking, Ricky, you’re gonna get yourself killed. He didn’t even move, he didn’t even fuss over it. He just looked at us like, well, you guys are chicken,” he said.
But Ricky through and through is a hockey fan and his team is the St. Paul Canadiens.
He would clean the dressing room, do the laundry, make sure the players had their water bottles full, and travel with the team on the road across the NEAJBHL.
Head coach Shawn Germain will remember the contagious laughs Ricky brought to the team.
“He’s been the one constant I think from each generation. He’s always there. He’s always around. He’s always willing to help. And more than anything, I think we just all love having him around. He’s kind of a bright spot of our day, whether it’s a big win or a tough loss. Ricky’s always positive. He’s always got the ‘nice try boys, played hard tonight,’ he’s always got something good to say,” said Germain.
“I remember one time we’re talking about Dave Babych because Corey’s [deMossiac] uncle obviously played for the Canucks. He’s a huge Vancouver fan and talks about Dave Babych, Ricky just pipes in and goes, ‘Dave Babych, he’s a good guy.’ Just the way he said it, we all burst out laughing, because we know that Ricky loves Dave Babych the most because he’s from Two Hills. It’s kind of more of an inside joke. You had to be there. So funny. We all are still laughing. I think we talked about that for about four years. ‘He’s a good guy.’”
“A huge thank you from me, the Canadiens, our staff, our players. Make sure that everyone knows that we really appreciate all the work he’s put in and we’re gonna miss him a ton,” he said.
Truly a people person, Ricky loved strolling over to have a chat, talk with the kids, or just go where the action was.
He’s worked for Pierre deMossiac for about 12 years doing lawn care and snow removal, and also would stay up late and wake up early in the mornings to drive around the community for Citizens on Patrol.
“It’s been a very, very good community,” said Marchenko to Lakeland Connect, who added he plans on joining the Vegreville Ag Society after the move next Monday.
But for so many it’ll be a loss to St. Paul and the surrounding area when he goes. But they’ll always have memories of him.
“He is going to be missed by a few people when he leaves for sure.”