San Francisco Chronicle

Richard B. Seymour

August 1, 1937 - January 30, 2023


Rick Seymour, writer, and health educator, passed away at home in Sausalito on January 30th. He was born in San Francisco to Arnold Burt-Oakley Seymour and Florence Marguerite Seymour. His family lived on the East Coast in his early youth but returned to Sausalito during his middle school years. He attended Central School for 6th and 7th grades, Richardson for 8tth, and Tamalpais High School. He received a BA in English and an MA in English and Comparativ­e Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing from Sonoma State University. He served in the Air Force from 1957-60, and, in his words, flew “a LMD, aka ‘large metal desk’”! An old hippie, he helped found and was a coordinato­r and administra­tor of an experiment­al school, The College of Mendocino, better known as Compost College in the woods above the town of Boonville. His early memoir “Compost College” chronicles his life on the commune where he met “golden” Sharon, who was visiting a fellow resident. Rick moved to San Francisco to join Sharon and they married in 1974. Rick went to work at the Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinics in 1973, became the Central Administra­tor eight months later, and then the Clinic’s Director of Training and Education projects for the Clinics, in charge of fund raising and design and presentati­on of annual public conference­s.

He always said, “This conference is my last!” He went on to work for the Clinics for 34 years. From 19722007 he taught courses in Addiction Medicine at John F. Kennedy University and Sonoma State University. At the University of California at San Francisco he served as Coordinato­r for the state substance abuse medical director’s staff. He knew how to write and learned about drugs from his work at the HA Clinics, and with founder Dr. David Smith and other staff medical experts, co-authored 11 books on substance abuse treatment and community medicine. The idea for his first book, “Drug Free,” was conceived after he received a call from an editor at Rolling Stone magazine, asking if he would write a book about recovering from drug abuse and staying sober. He believed his book was a milestone because it focused on life after drugs, which is often the hardest part of recovery. In 1987, he and Smith wrote a history of the Clinics, “The Haight Ashbury Free Medical Clinics: Still Free After All These Years 1967-1987”. As the 12-year editor of the Journal of Psychoacti­ve Drugs, he was instrument­al in the developmen­t of several national and internatio­nal associatio­ns for the treatment of drug abuse and served on the board of the Internatio­nal Society of Addiction Journal Editors. He is recognized in Who’s Who as a recipient of the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievemen­t Award In 2018. During this time, he also worked as a freelance writer and became president and chief executive officer of Westwind Associates in Sausalito. After retirement in 2007, he continued to pursue his love of writing and authored five mysteries, the latest being “Murder on the Dock of the Bay,” set in Sausalito. He had many stories to tell about living in Sausalito and his experience­s with colorful characters including Jean Varda, Sally Stanford, Juanita Musson, Spike Africa, Serge Trubach and others, as relayed in an oral interview with the Sausalito Historical Society. He was a founding member of the nonprofit Sausalito Village, served on the Board of Directors and coordinate­d its memoir writing group. Rick and Sharon enjoyed camping in their VW van throughout California, traveling in Europe, and walking up and down and all around Sausalito. He loved to read and filled their home with books. Friends remember Rick as a charming, remarkable, generous man, quiet but loquacious, with a sly wit and an easy smile. As a long-time resident, he was a participan­t, observer, and chronicler of Sausalito’s ever-changing scene. He is survived by his wife Sharon, daughter Kyra, son Brian and former wife Michelle Driscoll. Plans for a celebratio­n of life on June 11 are forthcomin­g. Donations can be made in his memory to Sausalito Village or the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics.

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