Cover photo for Richard Alfaro's Obituary
Richard Alfaro Profile Photo

Richard Alfaro

January 26, 1942 — September 11, 2016

Richard Alfaro


Richard (Rick) Alfaro of Winona passed away at home, with his loving family by his side, on Sunday, September 11, 2016 after a long courageous battle with cancer.

Rick was born on January 26, 1942 in Omaha, Nebraska to Alice Selke Alfaro and Frank Alfaro. The family moved to Corpus Christi, Texas in 1945. In 1953 they moved to Winona. Rick graduated from Winona Senior High School in 1960 and attended Winona State College. He received his B.S. degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills, Carson City, California in 1988.

After moving to Los Angeles, California in 1966, where his beloved daughters Christina and Kara were raised, Rick worked for Reynolds Aluminum Corporation, but his independent spirit and unconventional approach to life soon led him to establish his own flooring business, obtain his real estate license, and begin his lifelong, self-made career as an entrepreneur, investing in real estate, refurbishing and restoring homes, maintaining and managing his own rental properties, and dealing in antiques and collectibles in the greater Los Angeles area and then in Winona.

Rick returned to Winona in 1992 to be near to his mother, his sisters, and Jenny Sheets, a former Winona High classmate he had met anew on a visit to Winona at Jenny's high school reunion, which had led to a long-distance courtship. Rick and Jenny married in 1994 on the shore of their beloved Mississippi. They shared interests in art, antiques, music, films, nature, environmental concerns and human rights (Rick served on the Winona Human Rights Commission). Together they opened and operated the Blue Heron antique shop in Alma, and continued selling antiques at shows in Oronoco, St. Paul and Brimfield, Massachusetts. They spent many relaxing hours canoeing on the river, and avidly pursuing a more strenuous favorite pastime – rock hunting – wherever they traveled. They traveled extensively, visiting their children, extended family and friends throughout the U.S. in Europe, and exploring the Southwest, particularly Arizona and New Mexico.

Rick always felt a strong connection to Native Americans and their spiritual beliefs. Every fall, he looked forward to the Dakota Gathering; he attended Pow Wows throughout the Midwest and Southwest, and visited the Burleigh Family at the Salt River Indian Community in Arizona, where he enjoyed fry bread and photographing wild horses on the reservation. To Rick’s delight, they named him “Rez Dog.”

A gifted photographer, Rick’s interest in photography began in the late 1980’s while living in Hermosa Beach, California and soon became a passion. In 1993 he enrolled in photography courses at U.W. La Crosse to further develop his skills, eventually building his own dark room and processing his film himself. The majority of his work is in black and white. It includes a series of Midwest and Southwest Native American portraits and another of Pennsylvania Amish, as well as Mississippi wildlife, and American and European landscapes and portraits. His work has been exhibited at the Red Horse Gallery in Fountain City, the Pump House in La Crosse, the Winona Art Center, Blooming Grounds Coffee Shop, the Acoustic Café, and Viterbo University.

During his long battle with cancer, Rick continued to work and travel to visit family and friends who provided respite and joy between rounds of aggressive chemotherapy and many surgeries. Even in his last difficult months he took pleasure in visits with family and friends; frequented the farmer’s market where he chatted with his mother-in-law Mary, discussed politics with friends and enjoyed Joe’s stand-up comedy under the coffee tent; and took special pleasure in visits from his grandchildren and playing cards with them.

Rick will be remembered for his courage, his determination, his tireless hard work, his art, his kindness and the generous help, support and inspiration he provided so many friends and family.

He is survived by his wife Jenny; his daughters Kara (Duane) Gullet, Los Angeles, CA and Christina (Pat) Bosler, Indianapolis, IN; beloved grandchildren Caroline, Cole, Eric, Chase and Jacob; his sisters Bonnie (Ken) Gleesing, Milwaukee, WI, Nancy (Art) Bohlsen, Winona, MN, and Linda (Vern) Thill, Winona MN; and his nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his nephew Al Smokey.

The family would like to thank Rick’s extraordinary oncologists Dr. Wilcox, Dr. Kasi and Dr. Levontakos at Mayo Clinic, Rochester for their exceptional care, and Winona Hospice for their kind assistance in Rick’s final days.

A Celebration of Life will be held for family and friends at the Boathouse Restaurant at the levee in Winona (2 Johnson Street) on Sunday, October 9, 2016 from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Hope Lodge, Rochester, MN to provide lodging for cancer patients would be gratefully appreciated.

Online condolences or memories may be left for Rick’s family at

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