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Paul L.'s Story

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Paul L. Ricker, 60, beloved husband of Ann C. (Johnson) Ricker, died Thursday morning, March 23, 2017, at home surrounded by his family.
Born in Beverly, he was the son of the late George H. Sr. and Mary G. (Walton) Ricker. He was raised in Hamilton and graduated from the Hamilton-Wenham High School, Class of 1975, where he was an outstanding athlete. He played hockey, football, basketball, and baseball and was most recently inducted into the high school’s Hall of Fame, Class of 2016. Paul continued his education and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Norwich University, Class of 1979.

He excelled in football, with a total of 76 receptions for 1,430 yards. He broke many of the university’s records which are still held today. He was also inducted into the Norwich University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994.

Mr. Ricker continued on to play football professionally in both the USFL and NFL. As one of George Allen’s most prized players, he shined in the USFL. In 1983 he played for the Chicago Blitz, catching 39 passes for 493 yards. At the time, ABC Sports remarked, “Ricker blossomed into one of the Blitz’ top receivers…making Blitz fans quickly forget UCLA All American, Tim Wightman.” In 1984 Allen would then take him to the Arizona Wranglers, where he caught 39 for 514 yards, helping lead his team all the way to the USFL Championship Game against the Philadelphia Stars, in Tampa Bay, Fla. Mr. Ricker’s NFL career started with setbacks having been twice cut by the New England Patriots in 1979 and 1980. But as many national news publications of the time put it, it was simply due to “the numbers game.” As a testament to his talent, he was the last man cut each time being beaten out only by none other than the legendary Russ Francis and Don Hasselback, respectively. He would later receive many letters from prominent camps, including offers to play with the Buffalo Bills. But as any proud New Englander would, Paul held out, finally being signed by the New England Patriots in 1985 as a free agent. He played the entire pre-season with the infamous super bowl team, only succumbing once again to the raw numbers game, as he was the last man cut prior to the start of the season.

Active in the community, he was a member of the Hamilton Board of Public Works for five years and a member of the Board of Selectman for three. It was as a selectman that he was able to bring affordable housing to Hamilton and was also instrumental in bringing the Council on Aging van to town, helping Senior Citizens, and construction of the new public library. He cared very deeply for his community and considered public service to be one of the highest honors.
Mr. Ricker owned and operated a family business, G.H. Ricker, Inc. in Hamilton for many years, and it will continue to operate, serving as a legacy of his hard work and dedication to serving and helping others. A lifelong resident of the town of Hamilton, he was a member of the Sons of the American Legion and coached basketball, football, and baseball for the youth in town for many years.

He was a loving husband, father, brother, uncle, and friend who will be missed by all who knew him. In addition to his wife, with whom he shared 40 years, he is survived by a daughter, Laura M. Ricker of Hamilton; two sons, Paul L. Ricker, Jr. and his wife, Michelle of Hamilton and Mark E. Ricker of Hamilton; two sisters, Kathy M. Ricker of Hamilton and Judy Harrigan of Summerfield, Fla.; a brother, George H. Ricker, Jr. and his wife, Marcy of Hamilton; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
His funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Church of St. Paul, 50 Union Street, Hamilton, Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Visiting hours at the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly, Monday from 4 to 8 p.m. Burial in the Hamilton Cemetery.
As a testament to his years of community service and love of his hometown of Hamilton, his family asks you to join them following the burial on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, between 12 to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Community House to celebrate his life. Arrangements by the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com.
Published on  March 25, 2017
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