Dennis Rickard

courtesy s.b. historical Society

Dennis Rickard

Former El Presidente Dennis Rickard Dies

Old Spanish Days Stalwart and Scion of Pivotal Santa Barbara Family

Dennis Rickard, the 2014 Old Spanish Days’ El Presidente, died on December 13 at age 62 due to complications from a serious infection. He followed his father’s footsteps in leading Santa Barbara’s annual Fiesta celebration — the late John T. Rickard had twice served as El Presidente in the 1940s — and was a descendant of José de la Guerra, the last commandante of the Presidio and a patriarch of early Santa Barbara.

Rickard grew up on the family’s ranchos near Los Alamos and knew many of the riders in the Fiesta parade, which he helped organize for more than a dozen years. He was a trained CPA and brought the event’s costs down by 20 percent over time, wrote Erin Graffy in an Independent article, as well as raising a record amount for Fiesta in 2012. Rickard was instrumental in Old Spanish Days’ first-time entry into Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade this past New Year’s Day; portraying the father of the bride in the De la Guerra/Robinson wedding party, he rode on his grandfather’s saddle, decorated with nearly 2,000 pieces of silver. He also advocated successfully in 2012 to have Santa Barbara’s new airport terminal named after his father, the visionary mayor and judge John T. Rickard, who accomplished the feat of having the airport in Goleta annexed to the City of Santa Barbara.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Phone Scams Spike Countywide

Callers are claiming to be IRS and Homeland Security agents.

Longtime Fiesta Soldados Given the Boot 

Ousted Marc Martinez said Old Spanish Days has become "less inclusive."

Los Padres Forest Officials Ban Unpermitted Campfires

Wildfire conditions prompt caution.

County Out $2M Annually on Recycled Paper

A changing world market is to blame.

Electricity Bailout?

Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson squares off against Governor Jerry Brown.