Funeral services for Todd Rickenbach were held Saturday, December 27 at 2:00 p.m. at Memorial Hall on the Chadron State College Campus with Dr. Reverend Mark Crist and Dr. Russ Seger officiating. Public viewing and visitation was at 5:00 p.m. Friday. December 26 at Chamberlain Chapel.
Todd Rickenbach took his final flight in the early morning of December 23 with his family at his side after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
He was born at the Chadron Community Hospital on April 7, 1969, to Robert and Sharon Rickenbach arriving just seven minutes after his identical twin brother Rodd. His brother Troy joined the family in January 1973.
Todd attended Lingle-Fort Laramie, Wyo. Elementary and Middle School and graduated from Chadron High School in 1987. He always made his friends for life and many who spent his final days with him were friends he made while attending school. Todd knew from his childhood that he wanted to be a pilot, and he began flying lessons with his friend and flight instructor Terri Haynes while he was still in high school. He convinced his brother Rodd that flying would be a great career for the both of them and Todd and Rodd completed flight training at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Okla. Todd then returned to Chadron State College and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree graduating in the same class as his mother in December 1994.
While attending Chadron State, Todd also worked as a flight instructor with L&D Aero Service at the Chadron Airport. Todd continued his career in various positions including aerial predator control, crop dusting, and air ambulance. He eventually took a position as a First Officer at American Eagle Airlines in 1998 in where he flew in the Dallas, Texas base. He upgraded to Captain in 2000 and was assigned to the Boston, Mass. crew base. Todd finally realized his dream of flying large passenger jets when he was hired by Frontier Airlines in January of 2001. He upgraded to Captain on the Airbus A320 in 2003 and flew for Frontier until his illness forced him into early retirement in late 2009. Todd’s colleagues remember him as an excellent pilot, mentor, and friend.
Todd met the love of his life Michele Wolff Kruse in the summer of 2000 and would always fly home to Chadron from his job in Boston to be with Michele and her son Michael during his time off. Michele and Todd were married on September 28, 2002. Todd, Michele, and Michael made their home in Chadron while he commuted to Denver.
A cancer diagnosis did not stop Todd from living his life to the fullest. Todd is remembered for his smile, positive attitude, and willingness to help others in spite of his own illness. While receiving treatment, Todd remained active spending time golfing with Michele and his friends. Most mornings were spent having coffee with friends at White River Feed and the rest of day was generally spent at the Chadron Airport working on and flying his Cessna 180 with his brother and fellow pilot friends.
Todd is survived by his wife Michele Rickenbach and son Michael Kruse, parents Bob and Sharon Rickenbach, all of Chadron, brother Rodd Rickenbach of Denver, mother-in-law Elaine Wolff of Spearfish, S.D., sisters-in-law Barb Hoff of Huron, S.D. and family and Linda O’Donnell of Keldron, S.D. and family, numerous aunts, uncles and cousins and all of his friends who were like family to him. He was preceded in death by his grandparents Gordon and Helen Redfern and Max and True Rickenbach, his brother Troy Rickenbach, father-in-law Julian Wolff,aunt Sandra (Redfern) Watford, anduncle Ken Redfern.
A memorial has been established for the United Methodist Church, the Masonic Samaritan Lodge 158, and the Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles Program. They may be sent to Chamberlain Chapel PO Box 970, Chadron, NE 69337.
Online condolences can be made at www.chamberlainchapel.com
Chamberlain Chapel of Chadron is in charge of the arrangements.