In Memoriam: Tim Ricker, Past WEF Chief Operating Officer

September 15, 2016

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WEF photo/Stevi Hunt-Cottrell.

WEF photo/Stevi Hunt-Cottrell.

Tim Ricker, past chief executive officer of the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), died July 31 at the age of 66. Born August 29, 1949, in Washington, D.C., Ricker became an influential WEF leader.

On March 3, 1975, Ricker began his 36-year-career at WEF as WEFTEC® exhibits manager. He advanced to take on increasingly responsible leadership positions, including director of conferences and exhibitions, associate executive director, deputy executive director, and chief operating officer.

“His organizational leadership, and relentless focus on top-quality service were instrumental in the growth of WEFTEC and contributed to the outstanding event we have today,” said Eileen J. O’Neill, WEF executive director. Many at WEF headquarters considered Ricker a friend and mentor as well as a colleague with his dry sense of humor, laugh, and upfront demeanor, she said.

In 1986, Ricker hired Pam Henry, current WEF deputy executive director. Henry remembers the many things she learned from him about tradeshows and working with members. “Tim provided opportunities to me to step up and learn all facets of convention management,” she said. “Tim was my mentor and became my friend.” She also admired their working relationship, which centered on an ability to honestly share differing perspectives and opinions with each other.

“Tim was such a major force and bigger-than-life special person that his absence will be felt deeply by many,” Henry said.

Many of WEF’s volunteer leaders worked closely with Ricker. Larry Jaworski, past WEF president, knew him for more than two decades. “I came to rely heavily on Tim’s advice and guidance. Tim always gave it to you straight — if you wanted to hear it or not. His advice was always spot on,” Jaworski said.

The two became good friends even with different preferences in boats, Jaworski added. He remembers Ricker’s “wonderful, hearty laugh,” that was infectious, he said. “I will always remember that laugh.”

In addition to a long career at WEF, Ricker served as commodore of the Capital Yacht Club (Washington, D.C.), helped redevelop the waterfront of the Washington Channel, and published his autobiography in 2008, according to Ricker’s obituary published in The Washington Post.

— Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

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