Richard G. Rieben

By William Rieben

Born June 4, 1949, Died March 13, 2006. Although from infancy to 20-something, Richard grew up in Seattle, Wash., he was born in Los Angeles, Calif., and therefore always considered himself a “California Native.” He went by “Rick” through his 20s and then by “Richard” the rest of his life. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Washington in 1976 and went on to pursue a varied career in newspaper writing, copyediting, photography, graphic design, typesetting, movie critic, acting, teaching, writing, publishing, and website design. But mostly, Richard was a philosopher and seeker of truth. In 1990, at the age of 41, Richard embarked upon a 13-year bicycle trek around the world. He traveled the back roads of Asia, India, Africa, Europe, New Zealand, Central and South America. He worked at various jobs along the way, including: teaching English in Taiwan, teaching “Acting for the Camera” in Malaysia, farmhand in New Zealand, and janitor in Germany. Richard encountered many cultures and people, and he maintained a detailed journal that he later fashioned into the book, Dear Brunhilde.

Throughout his travels, Richard developed friendships with hundreds and hundreds of people on every continent, from all cultures and from all levels of society: from schoolteachers to doctors to prison inmates. He prided himself on being real and straightforward to all whom he met and he expected the same in return. He regarded people on their honesty and their willingness to think for themselves. And it was not unusual for Richard to abruptly and summarily dismiss someone for being plastic or dogmatic.

Richard believed that we choose our friends, but family is what it is. In his twenties, Richard worked closely with his older sister, Judy, as followers of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. Judy passed away in 1998, and he dedicated Reciprocia to her as his “tormented and tormenting mentor.” Richard always remained close to his family in thought and spirit. He interrupted his travels for two years to help his parents arrange for care, doctors, and medicines; and to help with their decision to maintain independent living.

Richard’s greatest passion was for individual liberty as the basis for human existence and interaction. In 2000, he published his first book, Reciprocia, in which he put forth his comprehensive ideas regarding “political philosophy, sociology, culture, ethics, human relations, epistemology, and liberty activism.” Over the following two years, he published four more books, which expanded on various ideas in Reciprocia. Richard continued to write articles, pamphlets and comments on blogs until late 2005, when he returned to S.E. Asia to visit friends and rekindle his enthusiasm for life.

Richard died of heart-related problems while visiting one of his most-loved places on earth, Malaysia. One of Richard’s last journal entries is this: “No particular legacy. It was a good life. Per usual, I didn’t find out what it was ‘all about’ until way late in the game, but that’s not too rare.”

Richard will be greatly missed by all who knew him … even by those who disagreed with what he said, wrote and believed.

The essence of Richard’s life is in the song “This is My Life,” performed by Shirley Bassey. Instead of remembrances, Richard would want everyone to: Think for Yourself (and trust what you think); Act with Integrity (especially when things are not going well for you); Treat others with Respect (until they prove themselves unrespectable); and always, always Question Authority (especially when it appears benevolent).

high school graduation photo of Richard G. Rieben #1 of the 2 most recent available photos of Richard. G. Rieben #2 of the 2 most recent available photos of Richard. G. Rieben

Copyright 2007 William Rieben