Rick Lynn Williams, 59, of Durango passed away on Sunday, November 17 at the Revenue-Virginius Silver Mine in Ouray, Colorado. He gave his last moments of his life bravely attempting to save a fallen miner and the rest of his crew who had succumb to toxic gas nearly a mile and a half inside the mountain.
A near lifelong resident of Silverton and the Durango area, he was born an August 13, 1954 in Moab, Utah, the son of Howard and Alma Williams. He spent his childhood in Silverton where he grew up hunting, fishing, hiking, and skiing the mountains that he so loved. He graduated from Silverton High School in 1972 and joined the Army Air Corp. He was stationed mostly near Frankfurt, Germany as a Crew Chief repairing and maintaining Black Hawk helicopters. He was honorably discharged.
He pursued a career in mining, working the uranium mines in Gallup, NM and his birthplace of Moab before returning to the gold and silver mines of Silverton where he enjoyed many years inside the Sunnyside Gold Mine. After its closure in 1992, shortly after the birth of his second son, he started Silverton Renovations, his own building, excavation, and contracting business. He built beautiful homes from the ground up, repaired and remodeled homes that should have been demolished with fantastic results, and earned much respect from his clients. But the recession of 2009 nudged him back in the direction of his true calling – mining. In 2011, he was hired as a carpenter to assist in building a mill at the massive Climax Mine in Leadville. In 2012, he spent a short amount of time mining outside of Hanksville, UT before being one of the first employees brought on for the soon-reopening of the Revenue-Virginius Silver mine in Ouray. He was highly sought-after for his knowledge and skills in the field. His dedication and hard work recently had him promoted to crew supervisor.
On November 17, an accident occurred deep in the Revenue-Virginius Silver Mine and his fellow crew mates were subjected to toxic levels of carbon monoxide following procedural blasts the day before. After being alerted of the situation, Rick bravely and selflessly entered the mine to assist his fellow sickened and fallen miners. There, he sacrificed his life, truly proving his worth, trying to revive the accident's first victim, Nick Cappanno, 34, of Montrose. As devastated as his friends, family, and fellow miners are, for this, Rick Williams will forever be remembered, loved, and respected for his selfless and heroic measures that he willfully took for the soul of another human being.
Rick Williams is survived by his beloved wife of 28 years Judith Anne, his two sons Aaron Samuel and Nathan Marcus, as well by his soon-to-be daughter in-law Lisa Marie Mullins and his granddaughter and true love Marley Jean. He will be held close the hearts of his parents Howard and Alma, sister Peggy, brother in-law Wallace, half-brothers and sister Dennis and Clara, and Doug who preceded him in death. His sister and brother in law, Jan and Craig Larson, their children, his nieces Emily, Jada, and her husband Sean and his great nephew, Kieran.
“God made only a few men that can walk through solid rock, and Rick Williams was one of them.” He will be terribly missed, but remembered in high and tremendous regard as a true hero.
A memorial will be held at Greenmount Cemetery on November 29 at 2:00pm. Immediately following, a public celebration of his life will be held at the Windom Room at the Durango Rec Center from 3:00 – 5:00pm. A memorial fund for Rick Williams and his family has been established at Wells Fargo Bank.