2015 Gary Richie (Large) (Small).jpegGary wrestled three years at Pulaski High School, where he was a state qualifier. His family moved to Barron, Wisconsin his senior year, where his dad took the head wrestling position. There, he was a conference champion and placed 5th in the state tournament in 1979. His high school record was 97-19. Gary attended and wrestled at Augustana College, then transferred to the University of Wisconsin River Falls. At River Falls Gary wrestled for the legendary Byron James. He graduated in 1983 with majors in English and Journalism and in 1984 accepted a teaching and head wrestling position at Rice Lake High School.
That summer, Gary sustained a traumatic brain injury when he fell from a ladder while painting a barn. He was taken to Sacred Heart Hospital. When he arrived there, he was not breathing on his own.  Gary was placed on life support. A 2 ½ hour surgery was required to remove a massive blood clot causing pressure and shutting down his body systems. He was in a deep coma and remained there almost six months.  During the last phase Gary was in and out of a semi-comatose condition.
Gary spent three months at Sacred Heart Hospital and two months at Sister Kenney Rehab Center/Abbot Northwestern Hospital, where he had intensive rehabilitation. Gary battled his way out of a coma. After 11 surgical procedures, feeding tubes, diapers, not walking, no speech, no memory and no communication, Gary continued his battle to get a hold on life.
He lived at home for five years receiving outpatient therapy, including physical, speech and occupational therapy. Gary continued to hard work to regain independence and re-entry into community living. During this time, his brother Mike took over the Rice Lake wrestling program and Gary assisted him. Gary was inspirational to the team.
The two brother coaches wrestled their dad’s Barron team five times and they won three contests. That gave them bragging rights at hunting camp. The contests were hard fought and the setting provided great excitement on both sides, along with great emotion.
Since his recovery, Gary has continued to contribute to society and the community. He volunteered at St. Joe’s School and continues to help facilitate the Rice Lake Brain Injury Support Group by helping others deal with brain injuries.
Gary has written several pamphlets and books regarding the effects of brain injury and living with the consequences. They included, The Cross of the Head Injured, Brain Injury on a High Road, Insights from a Brain Injury, Secondary Thoughts of a Brain Injury, Foundation of a Brain Injury and Feelings After a Brain Injury. Those insights relate some of what soldiers coming back from war with brain injury and post traumatic stress have to deal with. The scars, the mental hurt, the pains are real and Gary states, “It’s a cross they have to carry.”
Gary has also helped with brain injury presentations at Junior and Senior High Schools. For a number of years, Gary was part of panel discussions at the University of Wisconsin Stout in classes studying disabilities.
Gary continues to accept the everyday challenges of his disabilities, while maintaining a sense of purpose in his life. His thoughtful and appreciative ways are an integral part of who he is. His influence and example of overcoming life’s setbacks continue in the spirit of faith, hope and love. His steps leave footprints and impact in the sands of time.

RichieGaryObitPic.jpgGary James Richie

Age 57, of Rice Lake, WI died Monday, October 1, 2018 at Woodstone Assisted Living in Rice Lake surrounded by his loving family and Lakeview Medical Center Hospice.

He was born on October 26, 1960 in Oconto Falls, WI to James and Corinne (Varalli) Richie. Gary graduated from the Barron High School in 1979 and then graduated from UW River Falls with a degree in English Education and Journalism in 1983. Gary student taught and then taughtEnglish and was the head wrestling coach at Rice Lake High School. In 1984 Gary suffered a tragic accident and resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

Gary was an outstanding high school and collegiate wrestler and an avid runner. He also was a dedicated Rice Lake Warrior and Green Bay Packer fan.

Gary was an author and published several books throughout the years. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and socializing with people. Gary wasvery faithful and often attended daily and weekend masses.

Gary had a heart of gold and appreciated all the help that he has received throughout the years. He will be missed and was loved by his family andall of his friends.

Gary is survived by his parents, James and Corinne Richie of Rice Lake; 5 siblings, Michael (Stacy) Richie of Eagle River, WI, Barbara (Rod) Richie-Vergin of Turtle Lake, Jim (Linda) Richie of Cumberland, WI, Mary (Mike) Krovoza of Rice Lake, Tom (Rachael) Richie of Rice Lake; many nieces and nephews; 2 great nephews and a great niece.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 1PM Friday, October 5, 2018 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rice Lake, Father Ed Anderson officiating,with interment in Orchard Beach Cemetery in Rice Lake. Visitation will be held from 4-8PM Thursday at St. Joseph Catholic Church and for one hour prior to the Funeral Service at the Church on Friday. Appleyard’s Home for Funerals in Rice Lake is in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, memorials appreciated to St. Joseph Catholic School in Rice Lake.