Rupert Rickesen Passed Away


In honor of Rupe's deep commitment and passion for
The University of California's Athletic Department, contributions can be made in his honor to:

"The UC Regents in Memory of Rupe Ricksen" 
University of California Athletic Department
195 Haas Pavilion
Berkeley, CA 94720

Rupert (Rupe) Hughes Ricksen was born November 20, 1931.

He went to Berkeley High School and then on to the University of California and played basketball and tennis for CAL.

He and his brother John made the semi-finals of the NCAA championships in tennis (1951) and the quarter-finals in 1952 and 1953. In singles, he made it to the quarter-finals in 1951 and the round of 16 in 1952 and 1953.

Rupe passed away October 12th at approximately 10PM.

He was the personification of CAL athletics.

A Memorial service was held in Haas Pavilion on Sunday, November 1st.


An Exceptional Man

Weekly St. Helena Star Column
Tuesday, November 10, 2009

posted by Jeff Warren 

One thousand people (give or take a power forward or two) came to Haas Pavilion recently to pay tribute to Rupe Ricksen. He was 77. Not everyone in St. Helena knew him. But his mom and dad, Marsh and Boupie, lived on Dwyer Lane. They were partners in Freemark Abbey Associates. They loved the Valley...and the Valley loved them.

Marsh and Boupie were unique. Their kids, John and Rupe were more so. John and Rupert were identical twins. They were the world's most handsome men. Worse, they were world class athletes enshrined in the University of California Hall of Fame for their exploits in basketball and tennis. Worse yet, they were great family men who raised outstanding families...staying with their spouses for over 50 years each.

So everyone who ever met them had every reason in the world to be jealous of them and their wives, Coleen and Mary...but no one could because they were just so sincere, so generous and so honest. They were definitely worth envying ...but who could?

Volumes, not columns could be written about John and Rupe. Identical twins...did a day pass when they didn't speak? Law partners during the friends at night...doubles partners on the was It was beautiful. And all of us in their orbit were thrilled to be a part of it. But that's another story.

This is about Rupe...though every word applies equally to John...with the caveat that Rupe had the bulldog face, and Johnny the perpetual laugh. Few could tell them apart, so "Yo Ricksen" was about the best we could do until we stared at them and figured out which was which.

They grew up at the Berkeley Tennis Club. That's where Maggie used to play them for Cokes... she was about 10 years older. Hot shot teens, along with future NCAA Champs Mayne and Ditzler, they were sure they could beat that housewife in her 20's even if she were a former National Champ. The results? My lips are sealed.

McEnroe and Conners taught us about spoiled brat tennis. But this group grew up in the 50's...the ethos was different. Schooled by Tom Stowe (Meadowood's first pro) and Dick Stevens at Cal, they learned all about "calling the lines".

Mostly, in tennis, there are no umps. The players must determine whether the ball is in or out. It is "honor bright"...whether you benefit or not.

Imagine the pressure on a 10 year old or a teen. He can win the match...the tournament...the trophy... all he has to do is call that close ball out. And maybe it is. Who is to say? Everyone is counting on him to win...his parents, his doubles partner, his coach, his team. It's all on his shoulders. What's a competitive athlete to do?

Clearly, a kid can cheat. There are no adults to correct the record. And some do. Maybe he wimps out and just call every close ball in. Giving the benefit of the doubt sounds gentlemanly, but isn't true to the game, either.

As former Cal Tennis Star, Doug King said, "It is all about being your best, doing it right. You make your best call...not necessarily the perfect call...but the best as you see it."

And that was Rupe. He did the right matter who benefited. He couldn't help himself. He was his father's kid.

Today, we see athletes ingesting drugs to get an edge; officials making calls based on BCS bids; Wimbledon Champs threatening to Kill linesmen; college kids gouging an opponent's eyes out at the bottom of a pile.

Sure. There have always been thugs and cheats...and always will be. But that Sunday at Haas, the white hats turned out...hundreds of families who came of age in the 50's...who never cheated on lines...nor life. Most are still married to this day...and most were like Rupe, honest, loyal and fair in every aspect of life...from the tennis court to the court room.

Their ethos is not much in vogue these days. Situational ethics rule. Loyalty...variable. They're maligned as "old white guys". Probably not many "Twitter".

But they know about line calls. They know about duty. They know about honor. If the ball is in, that's how you call it...even if it costs you the match. Tough calls are not hard for them. Like Rupe, they've done it all their lives.

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