Gary Riekes has passed away

by Linda Hubbard on March 26, 2021

Here is the statement posted to the Riekes website:

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Gary Riekes passed away recently at his home. His passing was unexpected and the cause was unknown. We look forward to planning a time when we can gather together, and celebrate his incredible life and impact on us all.

“Gary has always said that the Riekes Center is bigger than himself and his biggest dream was for it to live on in perpetuity. Though we did not plan for such a sudden organizational shift to occur, we feel very confident that together we will make the Riekes Center continue into the future and fulfill all of Gary’s dreams.

“This is a sad time, but Gary believed more than anything that love should prevail. Take a moment today to call a friend, hug a family member, sing your favorite song, or smell the gardenias in honor of a truly great man.”

InMenlo file photo of Gary with Jefferson Medal (c) 2016


I remember Fernside March 26, 2021 at 5:54 pm

This is so sad. Gary was truly a great man. What an incredible loss for the community. May we all live our lives the way he did his. The world would be the better for it.

Alison April 01, 2021 at 8:44 am

Yes he absolutely was – he made such a difference in my sons life

William Susman March 26, 2021 at 6:10 pm

Gary was an amazing man of many gifts. A true renaissance man, from oboe (studying with a member of the Chicago symphony) to Stanford football. He believed in everyone’s potential and the Riekes center was a reflection of that belief. He was able to share his exuberance for life with so many through his incredible work in the community. May his memory be for a blessing.

Karen Vandenberg March 26, 2021 at 6:35 pm

I am a better person for having met you. I am sorry for the folks that didn’t feel your touch and inspiration. May you rest in peace Gary Riekes.

Karen Vandenberg March 26, 2021 at 6:36 pm

From the very first day I met you, I have been a better human.

Judy Massey March 26, 2021 at 6:50 pm

I am so sorry to hear that Gary has left us. He was such a remarkable man always giving of himself and prioritizing others and the community before anything else. Yes, I do believe the Riekes Center will continue with its own unique and community oriented philosophy. He touched so many lives, he will always be remembered as a remarkable and kind man.

Cara Vistnes March 27, 2021 at 12:33 pm

An incredible human being who touched countless lives across the globe. His purpose was always bigger than he was and I pray that everyone he touched will pay that philosophy forward. Leave the world better than you found it. He did just that. We love you Gary

Shari Asplund March 27, 2021 at 12:49 pm

I only knew Gary in elementary school. I was learning the flute as he played oboe in our school band. He was a very nice and generous kid. We played basketball at his parents’ lovely home. I’m amazed to read about the incredible life he led, all he accomplished, and the many people he reached through his center. What a huge loss, my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Swiryn Family March 28, 2021 at 8:28 am

Our family is deeply saddened to hear of Gary’s passing. Though we all live around the globe and haven’t see him for many years, we will always remember him for his vision, energy and compassion. May his memory be a blessing. ♥️

The Virani family March 28, 2021 at 11:51 am

Gary was larger than life. The Center was an all encompassing passion, and he literally worked on it 24 hours every day for decades. He made so many people better human beings, without them even knowing that was his agenda. His methods are so far ahead of their time, and hopefully other institutions will learn from his legacy and amplify his impact on the world.

He also had a wicked sense of humor that got him into trouble every now and again haha! And he was a musical prodigy. I remember him coming to our house in Menlo Park one day with his father, and they sang a duet for us on the piano. And they sang the national anthem together at local sporting events. Now we have to hang on to those memories.

What a man! If I can give to the world a hundredth of what he gave, I will die a happy man.

Elizabeth Ouren March 29, 2021 at 5:33 pm

Gary was a wonderful person and dedicated his life to lifting people up – especially the youth in our community. So sorry to learn of his passing. I hope that his vision and work will carry on and continue to be a blessing to many.

The Preimesbergers April 01, 2021 at 5:11 pm

The Riekes Center has been a real hub of the Peninsula community for a lot of years, touching thousands of people through athletics and other programs. It takes a real visionary to start and maintain a center like this one, and Gary was that type of capable person. He is not replaceable, but his center hopefully will continue on the mission track he set all those years ago. May he rest in peace.

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