Facilities employee Rivera passes away at age 57

March 29, 2015

Ricardo Rivera, a former facilities employee who was with Brandeis for 34 years, passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at the young age of 57. Over two weeks later, the Brandeis community was notified of his passing in an email sent by the Office of Communications.

According to the email, which was sent on March 12, Rivera, who was originally born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, was an “avid Red Sox fan” and enjoyed spending time with his family. Rivera is survived by his wife Olga, his six children, his sisters, his eight grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Dennis Finn, Jr., a fellow facilities employee and supervisor of grounds and vehicles, worked alongside Rivera for almost 10 years. “He was a great employee,” Finn stated, noting Rivera’s dedication to the job and to the needs of the Brandeis community.

Not yet accustomed to Rivera’s absence, Finn revealed, “We still talk about him, we still joke about him as if Richie was here.”

According to Finn, Rivera initially started working at Brandeis for the custodial department as a groundsperson, but through his perseverance succeeded in obtaining a commercial driver’s license, enabling him to operate front-end loaders.

“I really admired him for that—he stuck with it. At the time he must have been in his early 50s,” Finn stated.

In the wake of the recent heavy snowstorms, the facilities staff has been critical to the Brandeis community by orchestrating snow removal and ensuring that paths on campus remain safe for students.

As a supervisor, Finn shared one of the most difficult aspects of his job: calling staff in the middle of the night, often incidentally waking their wives and families as result, to aid in the snow removal. Although it was not mandatory for staff to report to Brandeis in such circumstances, Finn stated “Richie always made it, no problem. He took a lot of pride in his work.”

Over the years, Finn developed a personal relationship with Rivera, bonding as they shared their stories about their families and children. When Finn was training Rivera for his CDL license, Rivera’s son was just beginning college. “He had a lot of hopes for his son; he was anxious for him … I could tell he was a really dedicated father,” Finn shared.

In the midst of the snow removal operations, Finn recalled that Rivera’s death came as a shock to the staff, stating, “We knew he wasn’t doing well, he was ill. We didn’t know it had reached that point—I’m not sure anyone did.”

Despite being in mourning, facilities workers still met the demands of the record-breaking snowfall, working tirelessly to ensure the continued operation of the university. “The month of February was kind of a nightmarish world for all of us. Everyone realized we had to keep going,” Finn said.

“We’re really going to miss him. It was really tragic, he was still fairly young. He was looking forward to retirement and spending time with his family,” Finn shared.

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