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What would Rick do?

By Karen Sinclair, The Ottawa Citizen September 19, 2010   
John Richard “Rick” Sinclair was born in Richmond Hill on Nov. 29, 1947 and died June 30 in Ottawa, age 62.  

‘Karen puts HP sauce on everything, even ice cream!” This scurrilous tale was told by my husband Rick to my stepsons, Mark and James, who were nine and seven years old, respectively, when they came into my life.


“I don’t use HP on anything that you don’t use ketchup on — including ice cream.”


It became somewhat of a family mantra, even when the boys became teenagers. Break out the HP bottle and, sure enough, “Karen puts HP sauce on everything, even ice cream!” Sheesh.

Rick was a great tease. He had the boys in quite a state when he told them they would have to wear kilts at our wedding. “A Nicholson marrying a Sinclair
— of course you have to wear kilts.” They were 14 and 12.

“Dad — you wouldn’t!” We settled on tuxes with no pink cummerbunds.

When the boys were younger, Rick was definitely a parent. He would entertain a particular sales pitch and, if it seemed reasonable, would agree. He could roar with the best of them when the situation warranted. “There are two places where democracy does not apply — in an insane asylum and a family with kids!” Yet he expected the boys to push the limits, saying that he would have been worried if they hadn’t, especially in their teen years.

At times, he could be downright delusional. He was a lifelong member of the Leaf Nation. The Sens were Euro-wussies who would never rate a Stanley Cup until they got through the Leafs to do it. I would point out that his bums had to make it into a final first, something they hadn’t done in what — 40-odd years?

He loved football, having played in high school, and regaled us numerous times with his exploits on the field, including how much damage he could inflict as a linebacker on opposing players. Rick also rarely missed a televised Blue Jays game. The highlight of his spring was opening day.

Following a round of downsizing in the federal government, Rick decided to start his own business. Prospects for a guy in his 30s with a profound hearing loss were not especially good, unless one was content to push a broom. As with many entrepreneurial endeavours, the business morphed over time, eventually becoming a consultancy dedicated to the removal of systemic barriers to persons with hearing loss. He served on the City of Ottawa’s Accessibility Advisory Committee for seven years and fought for accessibility at all levels of the political process.

Rick had his demons, too. He envied his brother Jim’s business success. Jim envied Rick’s ability to empathize and connect with people.

He wasn’t particularly fond of being emotionally vulnerable. He would often despair when nobody showed any interest in making their organizations accessible. “If only I could get on the phone myself,” he would often say. A consultant friend pointed out to him that being a pioneer in something was often a very difficult and lonely existence. He loved taking cruises because “I get treated like I’m a ‘somebody’.”

He was, and will always be, a “somebody” to me — husband, best friend, lover, fighter, teacher, intellectual sparring partner and sounding board. He is
inextricably a part of me, so much so that I believe that as life’s opportunities and challenges present themselves, I truly will be able to ask, “What
would Rick do?”

— Karen Sinclair

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