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In Loving Memory

Brenner, Richard A. “Rick”

October 30, 1957 - October 26, 2023

Richard “Rick” Arthur Brenner, son of Harold and Dorothy Brenner (nee Vassalli), was born Oct. 30, 1957. He lived in the Village of St. George in his earliest years and moved to Grantwood Village as a young boy. He was baptized at St. Johns UCC in Mehlville and was confirmed at St. Lucas UCC in Sunset Hills. He became a big brother to Robert Brenner. Some of Rick’s childhood memories were about going to scouts with his dad and pulling his wagon to the local confectionery. He learned to cook from his mom, which became a lifetime passion.

Rick loved scouting, often was the camp cook and went on numerous outings at high-adventure scout camps making lifetime friends along the way. He advanced through rank of Eagle Scout. Ultimately he shared his passion for scouting and venturing with the next generation as a scoutmaster. Rick attended Lindbergh High School. Rick enjoyed hanging out with his school buddies and remained close friends with them throughout his life. They have quite a few escapade stories they enjoy retelling, some of which may or may not be appropriate for retelling here.  How many of us have had the good fortune to be able to experience lifelong loyal friends like this?

The summer after his third year at Mizzou, Rick had his first experience in the elevator trade. He returned to Mizzou for another semester, but later that year called home to say he knew what he wanted to do as a career—be an elevator constructor. His parents seemed to know that phone call was coming. Thus began his 42 years of passionate work in Local 3 of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. Rick found he particularly liked working on escalators and over the years became the “go to” guy for any questions his brothers in the trade might have. He would leave his work phone turned on, for example, while driving out of state on vacation and provide input to anyone who needed it. This willingness to help anyone earned him the 2022 Retiree of the Year award from his local. Just because Rick’s ALS forced him out of the field and ultimately made him bedbound, didn’t mean his union brothers forgot him. Quite the contrary. They stopped by to see him and reminisce about work stories. And they dug in their pockets to donate to Rick’s ALS fundraiser spearheaded by his daughter.

Rick married and had two children, Jennifer and Christopher. He was a proud and loving father, enjoying many activities with his children such as outings to local attractions, white water rafting, sponsoring a biology class trip to Costa Rica and hiking boyscout Camp Philmont in the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico.

Rick had a soft spot in his heart for animals and had many pets during his life. He rescued an injured cat found in the street and spent his own money taking it to a vet to have its jaw wired in place to heal. It became a family pet. Another just-weaned kitten wandered out of a cornfield near a hotel where Rick was staying while teaching scuba diving at a water-filled quarry. Of course it was Rick that found milk to feed the kitten, and the little guy too became a family pet. Other pets were to follow.

Rick took up Scuba diving and ultimately became a PADI certified scuba instructor. He met Joyce Bialik Reiner at Underwater Sports and even taught her daughter, Alicia Reiner, how to dive. Rick and Joyce became best friends and enjoyed many scuba outings in the Caribbean, Belize being their favorite dive location.

When Rick and Joyce married, Rick was pleased to become a family member of the Gapsch and Franke clans. He enjoyed attending family gatherings with his new aunts, uncles, cousins, sister- and brothers-in-law and niece and nephew. Alicia married Ben Rau, and then Rick and Joyce became proud grandparents of Emma Rau who is now 14 years old. The family grew again when Chris married Victoria “Tori” Coca.

Rick became a member of St. Johns UCC when he and Joyce married. Jennifer was confirmed there. When he became sick with ALS, the congregation sent cards and prayers for us to have the faith and strength needed for this journey. Rick’s name was read at the beginning of every Sunday service. The pastors visited Rick regularly during his hospitalizations and when he was no longer able to leave home. These prayers and visits helped us maintain our faith during a most difficult time.

Rick enjoyed many of our local nonprofit institutions and was an active donor and attendee at the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri Botanical Garden and The Muny. Rick liked to support local small businesses and farmers markets. Rick also loved locally brewed beer and was known to frequent Schlafly’s Bottleworks.

It has been said of Rick that whatever interest he got into, he got into it in a big way. He enjoyed a good cup of coffee and especially liked it brewed in a vacuum pot like his grandma used. During their years of antique treasure hunting at garage sales and on eBay, Rick managed to assemble a collection of about 200 coffee makers, many of them rare vacuum pots.

In the most recent decade, Rick found he truly had a taste for fine sipping bourbon. This led him on journeys to Kentucky and elsewhere to find the best-tasting or most elusive bottles of bourbon. His thirst for bourbon knowledge led Rick to earn his Executive Bourbon Steward certification from the Stave & Thief Society. He also won the Bourbon Super Fan award in 2022, and by that time he had acquired the nickname “The Legend.”  On a recent count he had amassed over 900 bottles. Through this love of fine bourbon, Rick found a community of like-minded individuals who quickly became close and loyal friends. They visited him when he could no longer leave home and provided help around the house and yard. His friends’ bourbon shop takes pride in raising funds for ALS and named their “Legend’s Corner Bar” tasting area after him.

Rick led a vibrant and strong campaign against ALS, the disease which took his life Oct. 26, 2023, but more so, Rick lead a rich and passionate life, could fix almost anything, and was dearly loved by many.

Rick’s funeral is at Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois. The visitation will be held Thursday, November 2nd, from 4-9:00 PM. His memorial service will be on Friday, November 3, at 10:00 AM, followed by interment at Sunset Memorial Park. Memorials may be made to the The ALS Association St. Louis Regional Chapter, St. Johns U.C.C. Logan’s Playground Fund or the St. Johns U.C.C. General Fund.


8 thoughts on “Brenner, Richard A. “Rick””

  1. I was fortunate enough to call Rick a good friend for over 50 years. From grade school, junior high, high school, college, and scouts we always had things to do and talk about. We went to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, NM twice together in 1973 and 1976. My thoughts and prayers go out to your entire family.

  2. To say I’ll miss my dear old friend is an understatement. Almost 50 years of camaraderie, countless shared experiences and memories, numerous told and untold shenanigans.

    You were a good man Rick Brenner. Rest easy, have a long satisfying draw on your favorite bourbon, and know you will be in our hearts and minds forever.

  3. Rick’s passing leaves a hole in my heart. As with the last two commenters, I knew Rick for almost 50 years. He features importantly in many significant memories. And while we were not constant companions through the years, when we did connect he greeted me with smiles and stories and like a friend I had just seen the day before. I will miss him.

  4. I am so sorry Joyce. It sounds like Rick had a life full of great times, great people and lots of love. Prayers to you and your family today and in the difficult days ahead.

  5. I never had the pleasure of meeting Rick, although I heard stories about him that made me know he was someone I would like. I do know his daughter, Jennifer, and she is the most caring, fierce, loving daughter I have seen advocate for her father. She is truly a generous gem. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Rick, this is a beautiful obituary and he has left quite a legacy.
    Gone too soon.
    Rest in Peace.
    End ALS.

  6. I remember Rick as a loyal friend who would always be there for you when needed. He was always cheerful and fun which was contagious to all of us in the group. Though life sent us all in different directions, my last memory was running in to him at the old Crestwood Mall doing the job he loved. We talked briefly, reminiscing about old times. That conversation turned a bad day into a great day. Rest easy old friend and may God bless you and your family.

  7. I knew Rick very well when we were in school and Scouts together. Unlike many of his friends I didn’t keep in touch. When I would see Rick it was like we were always in contact with each other. It was never awkward talking with Rick. I wish the Brenner family nothing but great memories of Rick.


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