Richard William Stevenson

wounds heal quickly

footprints once dry, now wet

behind us on the shore

– (Parksville, BC)

from Tidings of Magpies, Richard Stevenson, 2008


Richard William Stevenson (b. March 4, 1952, Victoria, BC) passed away on October 18, 2023 (Victoria, BC) surrounded by his loved ones, while his favourite jazz albums played. Rick is survived by his devoted wife of 43 years, Gepke (nee Polet), his children: Christian, Marika, and Adrian (Amanda), his grandson, Remy, and his siblings: Larry (Sherry), Donna, and Debbie, as well as many adoring nieces, nephews, in-laws, and cousins.

For the majority of his life, Rick was a dedicated and accomplished writer, publishing more than 40 works of poetry, haiku, and fiction, not to mention five forthcoming titles, such as the soon to be released, An Abominable Swamp Slob Named Bob, a series of YA/Sci-Fi, creature-feature, cryptid poems. While he loved writing for kids, most of his titles are adult books, including numerous collections written about the time he spent living in Nigeria. His early work as Editor in Chief of Prism international sparked his love of magazines, anthologies, e-zines, and journals, where he later published hundreds of reviews and poems, both nationally and internationally.

Rick graduated with an Honours BA in English from the University of Victoria, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. He was proud to become an educator himself. Throughout his 30-year career teaching English, Canadian Literature, and Creative Writing at the Lethbridge College, he helped many new and established writers find their voice. Long after he retired, Rick remained friends with many of his former students and colleagues. Rick gave numerous writing workshops and served as a creative executive on various arts groups, including the Old Man River Writers Group in Southern Alberta, and Wordstorm on Vancouver Island. He also shared his words, reading his works to enthusiastic listeners at venues across the country, and performing in two musical groups, the jazz/poetry band, Naked Ear, and the alt-rock/YA verse troupe, Sasquatch.

Rick had a way of bringing people together. He collected friend groups and maintained friendships dating as far back as his elementary school days, like the “Monkey Tree” lunch crowd. During winters past, he hot-tubbed with buddies affectionately dubbed “the Gorillas in the Mist,” in the summers, he dragon-boated with paddlers from “Happy Hour” and “Dragn ‘R’ Butz,” and over the course of many years, he’d socialize and travel with “The Nelson Family,” a group of friends who felt like family. His gregarious and easy-going character drew many people into his orbit – he always had a story to share, and he loved meeting new people.

His love of the arts, music, nature, and adventure were qualities Rick was proud to see reflected in his children, and he was thrilled to have recently become a grandfather. Rick carried himself with a sense of humour and playfulness that his kids delighted in, and he was an adoring husband to Gepke. In 2020, they moved to their house overlooking Departure Bay in Nanaimo where they spent many hours on the deck watching the ferries, floatplanes, and wildlife while Rick would read and write – he was always writing. It was a beautiful and blissfully happy time in their lives. Rick was a special man full of creativity, love, and wonder, and he was a joy to be around.

Rick lived life to the fullest but was still taken too soon. He would have said he had so much writing left to do and so much love yet to give. His loss is a wound that will not heal quickly. It is with deep gratitude that the Stevenson family thanks you for your condolences and stories of Rick. He would have loved to hear them.

Given his enormous circle of friends who span the country, two celebrations of Rick’s life will be held in Spring/Summer of 2024, one in Lethbridge, Alberta, and one on Vancouver Island. To be notified of these events, please email:

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Condolence Messages

  1. My condolences Gepke, Marika, Adrian and family, and to Rick’s extended family. I’m grateful to have spent time with Rick, and to have collaborated with him in the hosting of events in Southern Alberta— and through him to have met all of you.

  2. Debbie McDonald

    This is such a shock and such a difficult time to endure. To loose my big brother and husband at the same time is numbing. Rick was someone I looked up to growing up who always encouraged my artistic abilities, who validated my ideas and made me feel very much loved. I will miss him like crazy .

    • Hello Debbie. I am sorry to hear about your double loss, Jack and Rick. We will pray that God will comfort you and carry you through this difficult time. Mike Plimley.

  3. Bob Stallworthy

    Rick was a very special friend for me. He supported me at the very beginning of my writing career when I was endanger of just walking away from it all, before it got off the ground. He encouraged me after I did get the career off the ground. I will not ever be able to thank him enough for what he gave to me in his friendship. Thank you, man. And, I have figured out how to cook a pizza in this stove we have without turning it into overcooked cardboard!!! Next time, Rick.

  4. I will miss you Ricky…you truly were a “nice” guy. We had a run of jokes together didn’t we? Lots of laughs. ☺️

  5. I will miss Rick. He made me laugh. He could tell a story with a Gleam in his eye and a smile on his face. He lent me a couple of his miles Davis CDs and help me to appreciate jazz. We spent 25 years together at the college as colleagues, and friends who were part of a guy’s night out group in Lethbridge. Rick would speak his mind. We once had a president Who was complaining that the mass emails had responses that had some vulgarity to them. Rick’s response was as long as we don’t have straw in our teeth and s*** on our effing boots I don’t see why you have a problem. That bluntness is still hilarious to me. He told us stories about Nigeria and so many other things. Rick was always up for new things like guys having a hot tub together and calling it Gorillas in the Mist . One day out of the blue I said I feel like going to the swimming pool do you want to come along and Rick said yes so we went and had a blast . Rick, you will be missed my friend.

  6. Oh, Gepke, Mickey and Adrian – our hearts are with you at this time. Rick was quite a guy! Hopefully we can connect soon.

    Love you all lots

    Phil and Terri

  7. Richard was a relatively new friend for me. I met him after he and Gepke moved to Nanaimo. But he quickly became a good friend and a mentor of sorts. He encouraged me to have faith in my ability as a writer, and he ‘got’ me. (There is nothing like being “gotten”.) But, more importantly, Richard was a joy to be around; his enthusiasm for all things was infectious—poetry and music paramount among them. And the knowledge! The anecdotes on such an array of topics…

    In my reckoning, Richard was one of those people who one would not hesitate to call “authentic”. I never, ever, got a sense of any guile or hidden agenda with him. He was very much a watcha-see-is-watcha-get kind of person. And, in my estimation, that is to be cherished, to be held up as inspiration on how to do Life.

    I will miss my new friend and all the experiences and chats we will never have, but I will revere the moments I was fortunate enough to have spent with him. My heartfelt condolences to Gepke, Marika, Christian, and Adrian, and anyone else touched by this remarkable soul.

  8. I remember the exact time and place Rick and I became friends. We were driving back from Calgary after attending an educational workshop. After those two hours of discussing politics, music, family, and challenges of living in Southern Alberta we immediately bonded.
    We continued to get together and discuss politics, films, and music throughout our friendship. The Bruce Springsteen concert in Calgary was particularly memorable, a three-hour experience that we would fondly relive over the years.
    Rick loved to entertain through his storytelling, his unique view of the world, and his command of colorful language. He particularly enjoyed the traditional social gatherings involving our circle of friends, including the weekly Friday after work retreats to Pop’s Pub and The First Thursday of the Month meetings at local brew-pubs. The gathering that was particularly special to Rick, where there were even fewer limits on political correctness, was with the hot-tub gang affectionately called, The Gorillas of the Mist.
    Many of his friends would tease Rick about his booming voice. I may have exaggerated a bit telling him that I could hear his voice from the opposite end of the college, though a few times I did have to close my classroom door while lecturing in the same hallway.
    On the surface Rick was known to some for his rough edges. To me those rough edges were an important lesson that beautiful, kind, and caring people come in all sizes and shapes. No one loved his family and friends more than Rick.
    I’ll miss you, old friend.

  9. My heart goes out to all of you. Rick was such a good and kind man. Always willing to listen and be helpful whenever he could. His cheerful attitude and genuine smile will always be remembered.

  10. Meaghan Hackinen

    On behalf of the Federation of BC Writers, I would like to offer my sincere condolences. We will miss Rick’s energy and enthusiasm, and are grateful for his lasting contributions to the writing and creative communities that he was such a vibrant part of.

    Meaghan Hackine and the Federation of BC Writers Team

  11. Chelsea Tolton Bulnes

    My deepest condolences for your loss. A passionate voice, a creative inspiration, and a talented man has been taken too soon. To Ricks family- I can’t imagine how hard this must be. My heart goes to you all at this time.

  12. I’m one of many who clearly loved and admired Richard…. I loved that he spoke his mind – even if it ruffled some feathers 🙂 my family and I still have not accepted that he is gone …. Richard, Gepke was a huge part of our lives when our kids met at school . They are family to us and we mourn with you through this difficult time ! I could write so many stories, and I can still hear his laughter in my ears. I’m devastated that he is gone , and more than anything I know Richard would ask his many friends to form a circle of love and support for Gepke, Marika and Adrian
    We are deeply sorry for your loss, please reach out anytime
    We miss you
    Love always
    Helle Kimery

  13. I first met Rick at the University of Victoria around 1973. I was sitting in a
    small coffee shop by the University bookstore going through my recent purchases which included a book of translations by Ezra Pound and a few books by some of the contemporary American poets. Suddenly the guy at the next table became really interested and asked me what course had this kind of reading list. When I told them they were just for my own interest he quickly said, “You must be a writer”. When I confessed I was he said, Me too”! We quickly introduced ourselves, shook hands and in short order became friends. I think what impressed me about Rick right from the time of our first encounter was his open, friendly way of being. There was a part of him that believed writers belonged to a special society, a brotherhood and sisterhood of language. He spent his life teaching, writing, publishing, editing, mentoring, promoting other writers, organizing writer groups, writing events. His energy seemed limitless. He always had a dozen projects on the go, a to do list that never ended. I miss that dynamic, feel the world a less welcoming place without him in it. My deepest condolences to Gepke, his children and grandchildren.

  14. I’m so sorry that Rick left us so soon….I first met Rick when I was doing my MFA in Creative Writing at UBC in 1982. It was a very small group back then, and we all became friends very quickly. We hung out together, we “bonded”, we shared our life’s experiences and goals. Prism international was (and still is) run by the students in the Creative Writing program at UBC, and Rick and I served on the editorial board in our first year, and then in our second year, he became the Editor in Chief and I was the Managing Editor. We continued to learn together and to share our goals and socialize! Wow, did we socialize! After we graduated we went off on our different paths…and I lost touch with Rick… but when he moved back to Nanaimo a couple of years ago he got back in touch with me, and my husband and I were so glad we travelled across the water to see him and Gep again. We caught up with so much but had to cut the visit short because we needed to catch the ferry back to the Lower Mainland. We promised to meet up again soon…

    I’m so sorry that opportunity didn’t happen. Our thoughts and condolences to all of Rick’s family and friends… From Winona Kent and Jim Goddard

  15. Keith & Ellen McArthur

    Dear Gepke, Cristian, Marika & Adrian,
    It was such a terrible shock to hear of Rick’s passing. Our hearts go out to you all at this difficult time. I hope you can take a little solace in knowing the great regard with which Rick was held by so many. For myself & Ellen, it went far beyond this. He was, quite simply, our best friend. Our relationship went back to the mid ’90s when I first became involved with B. Macabee’s Booksellers. Rick was the first real live author that I had ever met & he certainly didn’t disappoint. He was generous, engaged & larger than life. And that laugh… I would purposely find things that would elicit it & then bask in the way he would be engulfed & how infectious it was. I don’t think he ever laughed alone.

    On a professional level, he was a font of amazing insight into the Canadian literary scene. I had always held the position that poetry, with a few exceptions (Dorothy Parker, Shel Silverstein & Ogden Nash), was something to be endured rather than enjoyed. An appalling attitude for a bookseller, I know… Rick took great pleasure is disabusing me of this notion & dragged me kicking & screaming into a poetic education, for which I’ll always be grateful.
    Rick & Ellen also collaborated on a number of books (his poetry & her photographs) & it brought her so much joy. Watching them work together brought further insights into the way this remarkable man’s mind worked.

    Rick was our champion, our colleague & our collaborator. But most of all he was our best friend & we will miss him terribly. Keep the faith.

  16. william s. galasso

    So sorry to hear of Rick’s passing. I knew him only through his writings but clearly he was well beloved by his many friends and family,

    my sincere condolences to all who shared his vibrant life,

    scott galasso

  17. I am extending my heartfelt condolences on behalf of my husband William “Bill” Hart who was also a haiku poet, a teacher of Composition and Creative Writing. Like Rick, he lived life to the fullest and also passed away unexpectedly this year in February. I see a post from poet Scott Galasso who is a mutual friend. I am sure Bill would know many of the other poets who are grieving Rick. We who are left behind take heart in imagining a gathering of poets inspired by all the new experiences of the great beyond.

  18. Sending condolences to Gepke and the Stevenson family. I knew Richard only briefly through membership in Wordstorm, but the gusto Richard felt for life and the love he had for all things literary was very clear to me in the short time we worked together. This is such a huge loss for the mid-island writing community but nothing, I know, to the loss being felt by close friends and family. May you find comfort in loving memories.

  19. My sincere condolences. We will all miss his huge caring personality.

  20. I am so sorry for your loss.

  21. Patti (Wesley) Williams

    So sorry to hear this sad news. Rick & my late husband Lyle Wesley met in the 60s and became fast friends. Lyle always looked forward to Rick’s visit and lively conversations. I knew that when the two of them got together the hours would fly by. Lyle was especially touched when Rick acknowledged him in his book, Live Evil A Homage to Miles Davis, as the person who introduced him to Miles’ music. He wrote an inscription “ hanging on a blue note in Lethbridge… “ when he heard about Lyle’s illness. His kindness was appreciated. And now I wish his family my condolences & hope that the joy of good memories brings them comfort over the next days.

  22. Rick was an amazing human, man, writer, poet…a gift to the world of Literary Arts. I got to know him through his involvement at The Radish Factory in the late 80’s, 90’s. We had many talks about writing visual art, music…I have always been a big fan of Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and global music overall…we talked about artists I saw at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival…my writing which was always on hold due to curatorial work in the visual arts however with the publishing of many catalogues on the work of Artists in Alberta BC and Ontario I felt some good feelings…and won awards for them…I left Lethbridge in 1988…returned to teach Art Therapy at LCC for a few years…we reconnected…then I moved to Edmonton…lots of changes in between…lost touch due to the demands of life and cat rescue. Rick was always upbeat, positive and I often wondered how he was doing.

  23. My warmest condolences to Gep and family. I first met Rick in the mid-1980’s when he lived in Lethbridge and organized highly successful, Canada Council sponsored, author readings. Numerous times he invited me to drive from Calgary and read from a new book of mine. His energy, his passion, his kindness and his startling prowess in his own writing will not be forgotten. In May of 2023, Rick spent two nights with Micheline and I and he gave a lively reading at Shelf Life Books here in Calgary. Best to you, Rick!

  24. Rick always made you feel included. That is what gave me the courage to attend a house party on the basis of a flyer posted on a post at the College. First Nations students brought bannock and I was too slow and never got to taste it. That was followed up at the same party by being stuck in the basement bathroom for over an hour with no way to let anyone know. Somehow the Universe let me out of there. That is how I remember Rick — things going forward with a few hiccups on the side.

  25. I hold with me a great amount of appreciation that I got to serve on the board of Wordstorm with Richard. His enthusiasm for nurturing literary community and amplifying the work of writers was always palpable. He had a lot of energy to keep the arts alive and share them widely. I will remember and cherish his way of living – demonstrating that the act of creating is a positive and vital force.

  26. Sandra St-Laurent, regional coordinator for Haiku Canada BC and Territories

    To all family and friends,
    My heart goes with you as I just learned about the passing of Richard. I only knew Richard from his correspondance around promoting his books in the regional haiku newsletter (For Haiku Canada BC and The Territories). I was happy to promote his “Bature” book in Spring 2022 and “Octupi” book last Fall. We were planning to promote the his other writings in the Winter edition and was hoping for on an eventual interview with him (now, too late). He was a prolific writer and poet and I will always remember his nice manners and enthusiastic nature. Take care! Prenez soin de vous.

  27. Richard was a friend, a generous poet, and an inspiration to me. We were roommates together at the 1989 Banff Magazines Course, a two-week, twelve-hour-a-day boot camp where teams of six registrants competed to invent, design, edit and promote fictional magazines under the tutelage of industry experts.. We were working on competing magazines, but our mutual love of poetry sparked an enduring friendship. Richard was instrumental in editing some of my earliest poems that will now appear in Cities Within Us being published this April by Guernica Editions. I’ve always been grateful for Richard’s wit, generosity and enthusiastic spirit. My sincere condolences to Gepke and the members of his family.

  28. Hello Gepke and family. Sorry to hear about Rick’s passing. Life is sometimes way too short. May God comfort you all. Mike Plimley.

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