May 20, 2013 06:20

The veteran police officer remembered by friends for his large and small acts of kindness will be laid to rest Wednesday.

Lt. Ricky Rees of the Lafayette Police Department will be laid to rest at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Rees died tragically Saturday in a motorcycle accident on La. 3000 north of Interstate 10 in Iberville Parish. He was 45.

Photo courtesy Rees family
Lafayette Police Lt. Ricky Rees, with daughter Anna (who graduates from Teurlings Monday) and son Jacob, was a devoted father, public servant and friend. This photograph was taken the night before a tragic motorcycle accident claimed the life of the 23-year veteran of the Lafayette PD.

Ricky Rees loved life. And he loved his two children. He was a single dad who worked days so he could be with them after school and cook for them at night.

He loved his work and his friends, too many of them to count.

And he loved his motorcycle. For the past seven years he took three road trips a year, to North Carolina in the spring, Colorado in the summer and the Texas Hill Country over the Thanksgiving holiday. "After 27 years [of friendship], he and I were planning our retirement together," says Greg Nelson, one of Rees' closest friends since the two met at Lafayette High in the mid-1980s. Nelson took those same road trips year after year. "We were going to buy a place in Colorado and live there during the summers."

Ricky loved to tell stories, recalls Nelson, a Houston high school teacher in Lafayette today mourning the loss of a man he describes as "the most giving and loving person" he knows. "The stories were the personal experiences he had," Nelson says. "He was charismatic; People were drawn to him."

Nelson recalls Ricky's many small acts of kindness, like the random text messages wishing his friends (some of whom he might not have talked to in weeks or months) a happy Friday because he had a few extra minutes before his shift started. "He brought joy to a lot of people, and he didn't know it," Nelson says. "He would literally do anything for anybody."

Ricky simply thought that's the way you should treat people you cared about. More important, his friends say, Ricky was a protector, a trait many believe led him to a career in law enforcement.

There's the story of the STM freshman (Ricky also attended STM) who was being teased until Ricky stepped up to defend him - and the teasing stopped because Ricky made it clear the bully would also be messing with him (and nobody messed with Ricky).

Robin Hebert and Ricky Rees

There's the single woman, whom he shared nothing more than a deep friendship with, who knew she wouldn't need a moving service when she bought her first home. Ricky was there offering to help. This is how The IND knows first-hand the kindness that was in the heart of Ricky Rees. That woman is Robin Hebert, our development director of special projects.

"He was the voice of reason for me and many others," Hebert says. "He had strong morals and an undeniable faith in God. He was passionate about his career and his children, and when I spent time with him, I used to think how wonderful it would have been to have a father like him, a Mr. Mom - the best of both mom and dad in one."

Recently promoted to lieutenant, Ricky was a 23-year veteran of the Lafayette Police Department. "As a traffic division supervisor, he often had the task of informing loved ones after a fatal crash," Lafayette Consolidated Government Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley says. "He did so with compassion and grace."

Ricky was driving his 2013 Harley-Davidson north on La. 3000 early Saturday afternoon when he entered a sharp right curve and, for reasons still unknown, traveled off the road and into a ditch. He and his 34-year-old passenger, Denise Benoit of Scott, were ejected from the vehicle, according to Louisiana State Police. Ricky died at the scene, and Benoit was treated at an area hospital for moderate injuries.

Ricky is survived by his daughter, 18-year-old Anna, and son, 17-year-old Jacob. He also is survived by his mother, Patricia Byrne Rees; his siblings: Grover Rees, Robert Rees, John Rees, Stephen Rees, Kathleen Rees Shires, Charles Rees, Tom Rees, Peggy Rees Crain, Dan Rees, Mary Rees and Jim Rees. He was preceded in death by his father, Grover Rees.

According to his brother Jim, Ricky was known to his siblings as "#12," because he was the youngest of 12 children:

He was a great son, brother, father, and friend. He was passionate about helping others and loved to laugh.
His world revolved around his children, Anna and Jacob.
He liked cars, trucks, boats and motorcycles.
He served his country as a member of the 256th brigade, and the Lafayette Police Department for the past 23 years.
He will be missed and fondly remembered by all those who loved him. - Jim Rees, #11

Delhomme Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Visitation is from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday with a rosary at 7; friends and family will share their memories after the rosary. Viewing is Wednesday from 7 a.m. until time of services at 10 a.m. followed by a police processional to Calvary Cemetery on the Breaux Bridge Highway.