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A Rich Life

Passing of Dion Rich, Class of 1947

Dion lived an unorthodox life, but one filled with fun.  In 2012, he visited the museum and donated a book about his life to our collection: The Life of Dion Rich: Live Like a Millionaire with No Money Down. There have been at least two books written about a man who lived his life on his terms, having lots of fun doing it. Read SDUT Article by Nick Canepa

Dion enjoyed life after death as well by “gate-crashing his own memorial”. Read A Final Toast To A Rich Tradition

A Rich Life

Diane Bell, San Diego Union Tribune, December 1, 2022

If there was a Hall of Fame for gate crashers, Dion Rich would be its leading inductee. The San Diegan’s exploits continue to amaze — even in the afterlife.

American sportswriter Rick Reilly, who accompanied the notorious gate-crasher to the post 9/11 New Orleans Super Bowl in 2002 to document his stealthy exploits for Sports Illustrated, paid tribute to “the ultimate gate-crasher” in a Nov. 28 Washington Post opinion piece.

During his 92 years, Rich “sneaked into more than 30 Super Bowls, a lifetime of Oscars and a few dozen Golden Globes,” by Reilly’s count: “He could sneak into a zoo, steal the stripes off a zebra and be home by breakfast.”

To sneak past security, Rich informed Reilly he has resorted to an array of disguises: sports reporter, band member, organist, team doctor, disabled fan in a wheelchair, an old man searching for his lost grandchildren and a frantic husband whose wife had left her purse inside.

So adept was Rich has sidling up to celebrities once he was inside, Reilly expressed surprise that his face was absent from Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

The final photo for which the San Diego bar owner and ticket broker posed wasn’t at a celebrity event, however. It was in his home hospice bed.

In his hands was a book. The cover bore a photo of him on the Super Bowl XII field in 1978 helping hold up victorious Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry, who had just defeated the Denver Broncos.

But the 2011 book’s title, “The Life of Dion Rich: Live Like a Millionaire with No Money Down,” by Charlie Jones and Bill Swank, had been replaced. Instead, it read: “The Life of Dion Rich: Will Dion Crash Heaven ... or will he go to Hell to be with his friends.”

The final practical joke played by Swank, Rich’s longtime friend, took place just a few hours before he died on Oct. 28.

What would Rich have said about Reilly’s column this week in The Washington Post?

Swank ventured a guess: “When people asked me to explain Dion, I’d tell them that he needed attention like normal people need oxygen. He would have said, ‘That made my day.’”