Ricki Herrera

Born: Chicago, IL on 04 May 1962

Passed away: Encinitas, CA on 13 November 2015

Aged: 53 years

Funeral Date: 09 January 2016

Service Details

Please join us in a ceremony to honor and celebrate the life of Ricki Aileen Herrera on Saturday, January 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Buddhist Church of San Francisco
1881 Pine Street (@ Octavia)
San Francisco, CA 94109

Street parking is available but limited. Please plan accordingly. Parking is also available for a fee at the Japan Center Garage located at 1610 Geary Boulevard (entrances are on Post Street and Geary Street - between Buchanan and Webster Streets), which is about 5 blocks from the Buddhist Church.

Ricki was an active and generous member of her community. She was involved in several organizations in the Encinitas area including H20 Trash Patrol and Paint Encinitas. Please consider supporting one of these organizations in lieu of flowers.

The Story

Ricki Aileen Friedlander Herrera
Hebrew name: Rivka Elka after her paternal great-grandmother, Rebecca, and maternal great grandfather Alex Hill.

Ricki was born May 4, 1962 at Edgewater Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first-born child to her parents, Joyce Sabel and Larry Friedlander. She was the baby crying and waving her little fists while the other babies slept peacefully in the hospital nursery. When Ricki was 2 years old, her brother Steve was born.

When Ricki was 4 years old, her parents divorced and her mother remarried. Ricki lived with her mom, stepfather and brother. When Ricki was 8 years old, her sister Elizabeth was born. In 1972 the family moved from Chicago to Tucson, Arizona where Ricki attended elementary school, high school (Amphitheater H.S. and Tucson H.S) and received a Bachelor s degree at the University of Arizona. While attending the University of Arizona, as she would for the rest of her life, she formed close friendships that she cherished and maintained throughout her life. Shortly after graduating from U of A, she moved to California where she would spend most of her adult life.

In 1998 Ricki married Bruno DellErba. They lived in San Francisco and Rome, Italy. They were divorced four years later. In 2007, Ricki married Michael Herrera, the love of her life. They spent the first month of their marriage in Costa Rica where Ricki had amazing surfing experiences. Ricki and Mike lived in Southern California, moving around a bit, and finally returning to Leucadia, her happiest home.

Ricki was a world traveler. Happiest when planning an adventure, and traveling to New Orleans, San Francisco, and internationally. In addition to Arizona, California and Rome, Ricki lived for short periods of time in New York and Mexico. She loved to explore every city she lived in and visited, walking for hours, visiting farmers markets, finding little restaurants and shops where they made chocolate or some other specialty, and meeting people along the way. Ricki generously and enthusiastically shared her discoveries with family and friends and always cheered them on in their own adventures.

In addition to her love of travel, surfing and the ocean, Ricki loved dogs, her cats, was an avid bike rider and yoga practitioner, and had a passion for holistic health and nutrition.

In early 2015, Ricki went through Yoga Teacher Training at Soleil Yoga Studio, Encinitas, CA, graduating May 3, one day before her 53rd birthday. The Soleil Yoga training experience was an important part of both her ongoing interest in health and wellbeing and her lifelong journey to build community and friendship.

Ricki was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in July 2015. She fought every day during her final months to live. Even during her weakest moments she maintained a positive attitude and stayed connected and supportive of her friends and family. She faced cancer in the same way she lived her life: with bravery, humor, compassion, intelligence and a fighting spirit.

Here is a letter to Ricki, written by her younger brother, Steve:

To my sister Ricki:
I am sad beyond words at your passing. I know that you are in a better place than you were with the effects of cancer on your body at the end of your life. Still. We wanted to spend more time with you. On Earth. With you healthy.

You have always been a beautiful, loving, smart, strong, stubborn, compassionate, smiling, understanding, enlightening person to me and anyone who was lucky enough to have you in their lives. You told mom that your mantra to beat cancer was “Peace, love and boxing gloves,” and that was the way that you lived your life.

I have many memories of growing up with you that are part of who I am. Setting aside several hours on the weekend to listen to the top 40 with each other and write down the songs. You giving me rides in the morning to high school where we would share the radio and our thoughts. Being told to “go for it” when I wasn’t so sure. Seeing you adventure around the world, always gaining lifelong friends and family along the way, following your soul and dreams in everything you did. Smiling, loving and being supportive of others. A reminder to me that there is a lot more to life than being “on track.”

You are a beautiful Aunt to our children. Listening, smiling, optimistic and wise, not judging, being proud. You are also a beautiful wife to Michael, daughter to mom and dad, sister to Elizabeth and I, sister-in-law to Stacey and granddaughter. Like Papa, a person who shows it but does not announce or claim it. The people in your life know how deeply you connect and how unique you are in genuinely and completely giving yourself to others.

The ocean is vast and powerful and spiritual and beautiful and uplifting and full of life and without limits and non-judgmental. It makes sense that you are good friends. Surfing and yoga also transcend, like you.

You fooled us and your doctors too. Inside you were dying but outside you remained strong and optimistic and stubborn, right to the end. Our Ricki. Dying is hard to hide; the fear of dying even more. For those more enlightened, it is yet another chapter, to be entered with peace and grace. I have never in my life witnessed the strength displayed by you in responding to your diagnosis, which came from nowhere and will never make any sense.

I could not be prouder to be your brother and could not have asked for more in a sister. Wherever it is, I am sure that you are watching over us with loving wisdom. And that smile. Your time on Earth – which was way too short – informs, makes us that much more whole and loving, and will never be forgotten.

Your younger brother Steve
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Dear Ricki: When I met you, I met a kindred spirit. Though our backgrounds were so different, we clicked instantly. We both loved to travel, traveled, and had a sense of adventure. We never had to explain ourselves, we just talked. I met you in 2001, I feel like I have always known you. We spent time together in San Francisco. I love to tell the story that I knew Bruno for years before he married you and that is how we became fast and genuine friends for 14 years. You were there when I got my nose pierced for the first time, ha ha ha! Later you came to visit me in Barcelona. I am so glad you did! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be there for you! You also came to visit me in Montclair. No matter where I was geographically or emotionally you were that “place” I felt so familiar. I am so glad that I have known you. Really! Knowing you helped me to remember what I am always fighting for. Freedom. Freedom from the mundane. Freedom to love, to enjoy the special moments, freedom to live the nontraditional life and freedom to be courageous. When I spoke to you, I knew I wasn’t alone in the fight. Even though you are not here in the physical realm, you are still with me. Your memory, is alive in my mind. My daughter and I went to MoMA and I thought about you as we looked at paintings from artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Pollock, we still enjoy those paintings, even though the artists physical form is long gone. Same with you, My Dear! I will always remember you, talk to you and laugh with you! Every sunset I see, I will see you in IT! XOXO, Shani

Shani Schwab


Shani Schwab shared a photo.


Dear Ricki, Am reading the other posts here and they made me smile - I love hearing stories about your past, some of which I knew, most I did not. I miss you so very much! When we met - was in 1995 or could it be 1996 - I had no idea that we would become lifelong friends, and the impact you would have on my life. While working together at Morrison & Foerster, we shared so many laughs and great times. I remember how you loved shoes...funky cool shoes...and you had pictures of them all over your cubicle! I remember going to Yosemite for a work trip - and how caring and nurturing you were to my friend who had just been diagnosed with cancer. I remember leaving you voicemails when I was in Hawaii...teasing you that I was in Hawaii and you were, well, at work. I remember your doing the same to me when you traveled abroad to Italy - I loved listening to your messages - you were so filled with joy and life and you were doing what you loved to do best - travel. I remember that you taught me all about the internet! I had no idea what you were talking about (what the heck is a browser?!). You were also the person who taught me how to text on cell phone...oh lordy those days seem so long ago but yet not really. You taught me so much - too much to write here - but most importantly you taught me how to appreciate and embrace every single day, and to enjoy the incredible beauty that surrounds us - the beach, the flowers, the birds, the sunshine. I learned so much from you. I learned the most when you were diagnosed. Your incredible outlook on the disease and life itself were beautiful and inspiring and touched my soul. YOU taught me so much about loving, living in the moment, gratefulness, and doing good for others. I am so honored to have been your friend. I honestly believe I am a better person for knowing you. I thank God every day for that. As others have said, you are now one with the ocean - and we are looking up to you everyday as you are us. Much love to my dear friend Ricki. Love, Sara

Sara Ethier


This dedication and letter is from Ricki's sister-in-law, Stacey Friedlander: Ricki, Not only were you my sister in law but also a friend and a super cool aunt who showed us all that if your interested in something then just DO IT! We shared the love of fresh air, sunshine and anything at all outdoors. You taught me a lot about nutrition and eagerly shared so much of what you learned in all your explorations. I will miss our conversations where I would vent about how hard it is at times with 4 teenagers. Reminding you that you're related! You would just listen, offer feedback and laugh at just the right times. You cared. Always interested in your Niece and Nephews lives as you would have your own conversations with them. Sometimes the kids would give me Ricki updates! Checking in with a text or a call. Staying in touch with them. They truly knew you cared. I'll always cherish that last visit we had together this past summer where we had (for the first time in 20+ years) time to walk and talk together. Just us for hours. We weren't just family we were friends. I will forever think of you when the sun shines and anywhere there is water, walking through the city, across the sand, walking anywhere. Now, you will be with me always. In my heart and in everything beautiful and free. I love you Ricki. When you lived in San Clemente and we visited a few years back a Jack Johnson song was playing in the background. Whenever I here any of his songs I think of you, especially this song 'Only the Ocean.'

Family of Ricki Herrera dedicated a song.


This is from Ricki's good friend, Pamela Brodhagen: I met Ricki 25 years ago when we were both looking for someone to share an apartment in Scottsdale, Arizona. We met one afternoon, and spent several hours together drinking lemonade, our connection was immediate. We laughed like we had known each other for years. Although we only lived close in proximity for a short time, our friendship remained strong and lasting. She was family to me. Her optimism was infectious, even when she was handed a horrible diagnosis. One of my favorite memories of Ricki is when after my divorce she was staying with me and visiting her grandmother Fay. It always made me smile that she called her by her first name. We went hiking up Squaw Peak and I "released" my wedding band from the top of the mountain in a gesture of letting go. Ricki's face lit up because she had also gone through a divorce. She was so excited to do the same with her ring at the ocean. It was so important to her to be near the water. Ricki will always be part of me, and I am grateful to have had her in my life. I will miss you dear friend, thank you for all of your love and friendship. -Pamela

Family of Ricki Herrera


I can't believe it. I'm in shock and heartbroken. Can someone please tell me what happened to this beautiful, vibrant full of life wonderful woman. I just can't believe it. I met Ricki at a ten day meditation retreat. We silently bonded immediately. The last time I saw her was in S.F at Golden Gate park. I made us a picnic pack and we spent hours catching up. I tried to convince her to move back and live in my house. But the job she was there applying for didn't work out. I missed her by one day in New Orleans last year this time. We spoke on the phone the day she was leaving. That was the last time I talked to her. We exchanged a few emails in the past year. she was and is a sweet sweet heart and I am blessed to have known her. So blessed. I send love to all that are feeling this great loss. My heart goes out to you. - Rima

rima khalek


Here is Ricki in New Orleans discovering someone who makes small batches of chocolate. We were there in May, 2014 celebrating my 75th birthday, and Ricki's 52nd birthday. Joyce, Ricki's mom

Joyce Sabel shared a photo.