John Barreca

Obituary of John Richard "Rick" Barreca

Rick was born on May 30, 1955.  His family lived in Toronto’s “Little Italy”. There were three boys – Jim, Steve, Rick and finally a younger sister Lorraine.  Shortly after Rick was born, like many Italians,  the family moved to North Toronto where Rick and his siblings attended St. Margaret Catholic School.

After graduating from Grade 8 at St. Margaret’s, Rick attended De La Salle College where he discovered a love of sports and was invited to join the senior football team.  He built his own weight room in the basement which he added to when the weights weren’t heavy enough. Because of his strength Rick was often called on by family and friends to help with moves and construction work.

He loved photography and had a basement dark room to develop his photos.  He was occasionally asked to do weddings with black and white or colour photography and video with his Sony camcorder. 

Rick completed an Honours BSc. degree in math and physics at the University of Toronto and pursued some graduate courses in mathematics.

Following University, Rick’s love of science and space propelled him to apply to the Canadian Astronaut Program where he was among the 200 finalists. Although unsuccessful as an astronaut, Rick still holds the record for the most times anyone has seen 2001 A Space Odyssey!  He was always correcting the science behind it.  This is perhaps why he chose a career in the aerospace industry.  His work involved writing application programs for the design engineers at Pratt and Whitney and later De Havilland. 

Rick’s career was cut short when he chose to stay home to take care of his ailing parents.  Following their deaths, he moved to the Ossington neighbourhood which he loved.  He was an avid cyclist and lifelong environmentalist.  He had an encyclopedic knowledge of almost every subject from Black Holes to Startrek!   He continued a lifelong membership to the Canadian and American mathematical Societies.  He loved to sit on the porch of his historic bungalow waving to neighbours and reading his journals. 

Rick was always there to help family, friends, and neighbours.   His great sense of humour and laughter would light up peoples lives.  Rick had a large circle of lifelong friends who saw him weekly taking  him out to Café Diplomatico for lunches or to watch soccer matches, and to Grossmans for live music, and on hiking trips outside the City. 

When he was younger, Rick hiked the rugged back country of Nepal and returned with great photos which he turned into hundreds of slides.  He also visited Italy, and later British Columbia and Texas with friends.

Rick will be sadly missed by Jim and Linda, Lorraine and Gary, and Steve and Linda.  He will also be missed by nieces and nephews Jackson, Brooke, Lukas, Laura and Jeffrey, and many lifelong friends.  

Rick will also be missed by cousins Paul, Hugh and Emilio Spalla with whom he was close, and by the Cira,  Barreca and Restivo cousins.

The family welcomes family and friends to a visitation from 1:00-2:00 pm on Thursday, March 16th.  A service will follow.  Interment will take place at a later date at Mount Hope cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, donations to U of T or an environmental organization would be appreciated.  Condolences may be left at .


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