Durango resident Rick Lynn Williams, 59, died Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, at the Revenue-Virginius Silver Mine in Ouray. The apparent cause of death is carbon monoxide poisoning from an incident that killed another miner and sent 20 others to the hospital.
Mr. Williams was born to Howard and Alma Williams on Aug. 13, 1954, in Moab, Utah. He spent his childhood in Silverton, where he grew up hunting, fishing, hiking and skiing the mountains that he so loved.
After graduating from Silverton High School in 1972, Mr. Williams joined the Army Air Corps. He was stationed mostly near Frankfurt, Germany, as a crew chief repairing and maintaining Black Hawk helicopters before his honorable discharge.
On June 2, 1985, he married Judith Anne Segal in Durango.
Mr. Williams pursued a career in mining, working at uranium mines in Gallup, N.M., and 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,” according to his family. “But the recession of 2009 nudged him back in the direction of his true calling – mining.”
In 2011, Mr. Williams was hired as a carpenter to assist in building a mill at the Climax Mine in Leadville. In 2012, he spent a short time mining outside of Hanksville, Utah, before being one of the first employees brought on to the soon-to-reopen Revenue-Virginius Silver Mine.
“He was highly sought-after for his knowledge and skills in the field,” according to his family.
Mr. Williams had recently been promoted to crew supervisor.
“On Nov. 17, an accident occurred deep in the Revenue-Virginius Silver Mine, and his fellow crewmates were subjected to toxic levels of carbon monoxide following procedural blasts the day before,” according to his family. “After being alerted to 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.”
Mr. Williams is survived by his wife of 28 years, Judith Anne Williams of Durango; sons, Nathan Marcus Williams of Durango and Aaron Samuel Williams of California; parents, Howard and Alma Williams of Dolores; sisters, Jan Larson of Durango and Peggy Williams of Dolores; half-brother Dennis Williams of Mancos; half-sister Clara Rasmussen of Mancos; one granddaughter; two nieces; and one great-nephew.
A graveside memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango. Immediately afterward, a public celebration of life will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Windom Room at Durango Community Recreation Center.
In lieu of flowers, the Rick Williams Memorial Fund has been established at Wells Fargo Bank.
This story was changed from its original publication.