Richard “Rick” W. Petter

Date of Birth

November 2, 1949

Date of Death

January 7, 2022

Richard “Rick” Watson Petter, a resident of Santa Barbara, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully in Los Angeles on Friday, January 7, 2022, due to complications following heart surgery.  Rick, as he was known to family and friends, was born on November 2, 1949 in Exeter to his parents, Nancy Eugenia (Clawson) and Robert Henry Petter.  A year and a half later, Rick’s sister, Betsy, was born.  The two children shared a loving and happy home with their parents in Exeter where they grew up.  In his early years, Rick was influenced by his maternal grandfather who was a newspaper publisher in Exeter.  In high school, he joined the newly formed Creative Art Club which published the school’s annual magazine “Techne”.  Rick graduated from Exeter High School in 1967 and went on to study Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as drama, at California State University, Fresno, graduating in 1972.  Several years later, he moved to the Los Angeles area and was hired as a reporter with Daily Variety in Hollywood.  After a mini-vacation with a friend to visit the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, he decided to move there and began working for the County of Monterey as a deputy clerk for the Superior Court in both the Salinas and Monterey offices. Longing to live in the big city again and reconnect with old friends, Rick moved to Van Nuys, finding employment with various law firms in Beverly Hills and Century City as a legal secretary.  Rick was a highly-skilled, extremely efficient employee, with a dynamic personality.  Always on the go, he and many friends enjoyed fabulous music at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles live theater performances, disco dancing in the popular dance venues of the day, museums, art galleries and, of course, the incredible restaurants in the area. Rick always loved being around people and organizing parties at his home.  After suffering several years in the San Fernando Valley heat, he made the decision to move to the small community of Venice and purchased a home not far from the beach.   His home was the place for gatherings and parties of all kinds.  Celebrating life and special occasions with Rick was an unmatched privilege.  There was always laughter and music in his beautifully decorated home.  During his lifetime, he had been the proud “dad” to his handsome Basset Hound “Rover”, and two beautiful Cocker Spaniels, “Rocky” and “Bullwinkle” who filled his heart and home with joy.   Rick’s final career move, where he was the happiest, began in 1980, working for attorney Michael Reino in Santa Monica as a litigation paralegal.  After several years at that location, Michael opened a second office in Santa Barbara, with Rick handling the secretarial responsibilities of both offices.  Eventually, the Santa Monica office was closed and Rick packed up and moved to Santa Barbara to be closer to Michael and his family. Some years before moving to Santa Barbara, Rick was introduced to a family who lived in Italy through a personal friend.  Over the years, he traveled to Italy many times to spend vacations with his newly-found “Italian family”.  He loved the country, the Italian people, their culture and, of course, its delicious food.  Many of his Italian friends came to visit Rick in his home in Santa Barbara over the years for extended stays.  With the Italian influence ever present, in early 2000, he developed a start-up food company and named it “Campania Italian”.  On weekends, he would make almond Roccoco Italian cookies and deliver them to local restaurants and stores in his red pickup truck.  Rick found success in his little company for the next ten years before closing the business. Rick will always be remembered for his big heart, warm smile, infectious laugh, gracious hospitality, love of food, drink, music and, most of all, his compassion and empathy for others.  He was someone who made everything in life better and was the greatest friend one could ever wish to have.  The minute you met him, your life would be forever changed.  Rick was always the life of the party with his unique personality, the best humorous lines and quick wit.  He was passionate about his political views and didn’t mind discussing them with you.  He was an avid reader of current bestsellers, and was always up-to-date on the latest events of the day.   Rick believed that having your dreams fulfilled was more therapeutic than having them analyzed.  His favorite quote from “Brokeback Mountain” (the book) was “One tender moment’s reprieve from loneliness can illuminate a life”.  Rick was preceded in death by his mother in 1977, his father in 2005, and his step-mother, Dorothy Silvey Petter in 2007.  He is survived by his loving and devoted sister, Elizabeth “Betsy” Petter-Fries of Moorpark; his three nieces, Shanon Diffey of Fresno, Erin Carnan of Simi Valley, and Kasey Fries of Tarzana; longtime friend, Michael Reino, wife Alisa, their son Zachary and daughter Wenonah; numerous cousins, as well as many friends near and far, all of whom are devastated by his sudden passing. Rick will be interred in his mother’s grave at the Exeter District Cemetery, on a date yet to be determined.  A Celebration of Life memorial service is being planned for sometime in the Spring of 2022 in Santa Barbara.  For more information regarding the memorial service, please contact Betsy Fries at  or Michael Reino at  To view the full online memorial for Richard W. Petter, please visit the mortuary website at:



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