Rick Gilmore, age 61, of Stockton, passed away on May 14th, 2023, of natural causes.
Rick was born June 25, 1961 in Paragould, Arkansas, one of two boys, his brother David passed in 1997. He is fondly remembered for his kindness and fierce loyalty, his wry sense of humor and for his willingness to stand up and fight for what he believed in. He is survived by his mother, Shirley Schultz, and nephews, Steven (Liz) Gilmore and Kevin Gilmore.
Rick was as a titan of California’s water industry. His steadfast tenacity and devotion to protect agriculture and multi-generational farmers made a significant, lasting impact not only in the Tracy area, but across the state.
He worked his way up from humble beginnings. In 1983, Rick joined the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) as a ditch tender. Over the years, he rose through the ranks and in 1999 he became BBID’s General Manager. Rick served dutifully in that capacity until March 2022, when he went on a medical leave of absence. Rick was an encyclopedia of knowledge about BBID and could recite, from memory, anything from the intricate details of water policy, to the innerworkings of District facilities, to moments large and small from the District’s 100-plus year history. Rick was also very active in a number of water related organizations such as the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority, and others.
Rick was a beloved, larger-than-life figure in the local community and amongst his colleagues in the water profession. He cared deeply for his family, colleagues and the community BBID serves, and changed countless lives with his incredible energy, generosity, and support. Rick referred to the team of BBID’s consultants simply as “the BBID Family,” and hosted numerous dinners and holiday parties at District Headquarters with his partner, the late Kelley Geyer.
In the midst of historic drought in 2015, Rick was the steady hand that guided the District in its successful challenge of the State Water Board when it curtailed BBID’s water supply. BBID’s unprecedented, resounding victories before the State Water Board and Santa Clara Superior Court strengthened the oldest water rights in California to this day. It would not have been possible without Rick’s, leadership, courage, and intellect – and his belief that BBID would ultimately prevail despite incredible odds and enormous stakes.
That’s the kind of person he was – the kind of person who would see something all the way through, no matter how difficult; no matter how hard he had to work. People like Rick are unique and rare.
A memorial celebrating Rick’s life will be held June 1, 2023. Friends and loved ones are welcome to attend. Additional details are below.