It is approaching one year since my dearest and closest friend in the entire universe, Dr. Richard "Doc" Rioux, passed away. If you are wondering why anyone who felt this kind of closeness to the "cowboy" waited so very long to come forth and share his bewilderment over Richard's untimely death, it is only because Richard was such an inspiring individual -- both to me personally and to all of the people of Stevenson Ranch, the entire Santa Clarita Valley, the Acton and Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centers and, most of all, to his loving wife, Suzanne, their four children and their one grandchild.
This wonderful man had the ability to personally "touch" everyone that he came in contact with in a meaningful and positive way. Can anyone honestly state that Richard ever acted upon, said or printed anything, ever, in any forum, that was meant or portrayed in a negative light? I do not believe so.
This may seem to go to the extreme, but the only real analogy that I can link our dear Richard's presence to is that, in scripture, Mohammed was the prophet to the entire Muslim community. Richard was, indeed, the long awaited prophet and personal redemption to each and every one of the downtrodden and "stricken" people he came into contact with, or touched in some way, through the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centers in Acton and Warm Springs. God, how those people loved and worshipped his very existence.
The people of Stevenson Ranch, who often mistook Richard as one who sought to become the "czar" of our community, now pause and reluctantly feel sincere remorse over their initial -- and mistaken -- unfounded beliefs that Richard was, in some way, wrong for or a detriment to our community. How very mistaken they now realize they were. The simple fact is that we, the residents of Stevenson Ranch, are no longer led by Richard's visions nor will we ever be what we had the ability to become during Richard's leadership and personal involvement in our community.
The formation of the democratic process within and the initial development of our community can be attributed to only one individual, "Doc" Rioux. Many of his detractors, who were published often in The Signal, fell silent subsequent to his death. Why is that?
I have not stepped forward and addressed the death and the deep, personal loss that I feel within my soul until now because I loved Richard so very much that I was totally and completely unable to face or accept the reality of his sudden and unexpected death. As a close personal friend of Richard's and of his lovely wife, Suzanne, I could find no way to make myself attend his memorial services. In a total loss of physical and mental comprehension, I could not compel myself in any way to accept the fact that my dearest and closest friend and confidante, Dr. Richard "Doc" Rioux, had left this earth.
He once wrote one of his Sunday columns about my calling him immediately after I received notification of the tragic death of my 23-year-old son, Brian. His special personal "ability" and and loving friendship gave me the most compassionate solace and comfort that I had ever experienced in my life. When I picked up The Signal the following Sunday morning and went directly to his weekly column, as I always religiously did, I was astounded to find that he had included, in his writings, my telephone call to him, informing him of the death of my son. He wrote the most eloquent of loving and comforting words, in a public forum, for me and everybody else in the world to see, offering his comfort and love over my loss.
I will never forget Dr. Richard Rioux, my friend, confidante and teacher of how all of us should conduct ourselves in the short time that we are permitted to spend on this earth. Richard, dear friend, I will mourn your absence until we are reunited once again. God bless you and your family.
JAMES L. MILLER