Richard and Ava’s Story

Richard and Ava met in a bar through mutual friends on February 8, 1991. They spent that Friday night and the weekend together, and Richard moved in on Monday. They were married five months later. Ava was thirty-three, and Richard was thirty-nine. They met in Seattle and then moved to northern Italy, then London, San Diego, Tucson, Vancouver, and then back to Tucson.

Richard charmed people wherever he went with his handsome looks, easygoing attitude, and interest in other people and their lives. Richard had been a star since the day he was born, a gifted athlete with a sharp mind. He was born to Marilyn and Vernon Ping on July 23, 1951, with one older brother, Jim. He was Dickie as a child, Dick when Ava met him, Riccardo when they lived in Italy, and Richard when they moved to London.

Ava always thought they’d be the cute old couple walking hand in hand, still in love after all those years. Dying in their sleep at the exact same moment, bodies entwined in a final embrace. But that’s not the way it turned out.

Richard was diagnosed with Parkinson’s on May 26, 2010, with Lewy-body dementia entering into the mix around the same time.

He left the earth on March 26, 2017.  Seven short and very long years later.


Memories & Stories of Richard

Richard is my brother: Jim Ping

Richard Ping is my brother.  I was wary when Ava told me she had written this book, but after I had read it, after a few chuckles and after all the tears, I changed my tune.  I love that she wrote this book for three reasons. 

First, the book touches on how special my brother was in so many ways.  Richard was unique and was his own man.  Of course, I am biased because we love each other, but there are so many positive things I could say about him.  Suffice it to say that he was just a good person, he didn’t have a mean bone in his body, he was gifted mentally and physically, and he was good at whatever he chose to do.  He was a great brother, a great son, a great friend and a great husband. 

Second, in case you couldn’t tell after reading the book, Ava and Richard are in love.  Moreover, Ava has been an angel.  Richard and Ava, have been inseparable for over twenty-five years, even to this day.  Whatever my brother endured, Ava endured with him.  She is without a doubt, one strong woman and a great sister-in-law, as well as daughter-in-law. 

Finally, the book touches on (and I mean only touches the surface) how ugly, how tiring, how expensive and how devastating Parkinson’s Disease, along with Lewy Body Dementia, can be.  Just has Ava has stated in her book, “I wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy”. 

This is a testimony on the need for enhanced research and improved support for individuals and families dealing with the disease.  The fact that my beautiful and insightful brother specified in his living will “no antibiotics” and that he contracted pneumonia was a godsend. 

Richard, I love you and miss you!

Jim Ping

Richard had the gift of making you feel special: Steve Berg

Richard and I were good friends from the first day we met.  Though we didn’t always see each other that often, especially as we got older, I always felt that closeness when we did get together.  Richard had the gift of making you feel special and important in his life.

I am sure you would agree, he was not an open book, always unconventional and a bit of a mystery.  I liked that about him.

He was kind person, gentle even, considerate and respectfully.  But my favorite thing about Richard was his fabulous sense of humor.  I really miss that.  I remember the day he called me and told me about meeting you.  Considering his prior situation, I was a little surprised but not shocked.  I could hear in his voice something was very different.  Sounded a little like he had won a 10 million dollar lottery! Ha ha … but turns out he did!

How fortunate you found each other.  I have few friends that share a relationship as special as yours and Richards.  You always want the best for your friends, I know he found that in you.  He told me so many times.


Excerpts from July 2017 email to Ava

7th Grade Hoops: George Hill

Dear Dick and Ava (Still Dick to me.  I will try to adjust?!)

We met in the 7th grade and immediately shared one passion.  Hoops.

Richard (see how quick I am!?) came up to me after the school year and said. “You want to go to Bob Houbregs* Basketball Camp?” Well, I didn’t really know they had basketball camps and I sure didn’t know who Bob Houbregs was.  We pitched the parents and we were off.

Camp Casey on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound was our destination.   Bob Houbregs gave an introductory talk.  I can remember he was the tallest human being I had even seen.  We were in awe.  By then I knew who Bob Houbregs was!

At the end of the camp, they gave out three awards.  MVP, Most Improved and Most Sportsmanlike.  The MVP was a shoe in.  Richard did things nobody else did.  Hit the open man, dribble through ANY defense, and hand out jock straps after a drive. 

I received the Most Improved, which didn’t take a lot.  What I always enjoyed it that a couple of guys from Eastmont took home two of the three awards.  Must have been 100 guys there.

George Hill

Excerpts from his letter written to us on November 2014

* Bob Houbregs was a basketball player for the University of Washington and went on to play professionally.