For Rick Faron, Southwest Ice Arena is south suburban Crestwood was, family. He worked at SIA from age 19 through his unexpected death last August 9, at 55, then serving as its general manager.
“Rick was the man at Southwest Ice Arena,” Frank DiCristina, SIA president. “He was always there; everyone knew Rick; everyone liked Rick. And Rick loved his job.”
Faron started playing hockey at age 11, including years for the St. Jude Knights, and then was a four-year varsity player at De La Salle High School and also at College of DuPage. He later was an assistant coach from 1991-1994 with Tom Kurzawski for St. Laurence High School, and then an assistant coach with St. Jude for both of his son’s teams. He also coached with Craig Ferguson and Harry Kohl from 1998-2006 at St. Rita.
Faron died of complications from kidney failure.
“Rick was my best friend,” said DiCristina who, as a freshman at St. Laurence, still recalls getting checked on his back my Faron, who was then a sophomore.
“I remember thinking (at the time), ‘I have three more years (playing) against this guy. Rick was a clean player, but an intimidating player.”
Faron also was a local referee for nine years.
His sons – Ricky, now 23; and Tony, now 20 – played for St Jude, the Chicago Fury and St. Rita.
“One of Rick’s proudest moments was when his boys won the Kennedy Cup for St Rita, and then went on to win the State Championship in 2012,” said their mom, Chrissy Faron – who was married to Rick for “27 wonderful years,” she said.
Ricky and Tony are still on-ice officials. “Both sons are refs (and) they love it,” Chrissy said.
Chrissy, 53, lives in New Lenox and is a pediatric dental assistant for Treasured Smiles Dentistry.
The hockey community is getting together on Saturday, March 11, as A Night to Celebrate the Life of Rick Faron will be held, fittingly, at Redemption Bar (5505 W. 126th Street), above Southwest Ice Arena. The Blackhawks play the Boston Bruins that afternoon, so the Celebration starts at 11:30 a.m., thus attendees can watch the game.
There also will be a special Question & Answer session with Eddie Olczyk, plus raffles, drawings and more.
Admission is $125, which will support the Rick Faron Memorial Foundation. Some of the raffle prizes include autographed hockey sticks and more.
“It will be a fun, emotional day that I’m really looking forward to,” DiCristina said. “No doubt there will be plenty of stories from the past.”
Olczyk autographed 300 pucks with a logo for the event, which will be given away to attendees.
“The best medicine was hearing stories about Rick, so, having dinner one night with our closest friends Frank DiCristina, Phil Stevens, Lori L’ Heureux and Susan Lief, (they) came up with the idea for A Night to Celebrate the Life of Rick Faron,” said Chrissy Faron.
“Eddie is family to us; we have all been a part of each other’s lives forever.”
Chrissy Faron said the hockey community has extended unwavering support for her family since his passing. “They have been there for me and the boys. I don’t know what I would have done without the support and love from all of them,” she said. “There is nothing like my hockey family. To this day, I could call any of the people who we have been involved with over the years and they are always there for (one another).”
**Photos courtesy of Chrissy Faron**