Rick Christofferson died peacefully in his home, surrounded by friends on December 7, 2008. Many people in Berkeley and the Long Haul knew him from his work with Berkeley’s Needle Exchange Emergency Distribution. He was a most appropriate person to coordinate NEED’s needle distribution and harm reduction activities: A lifelong injection drug user, in and out of jail as a youngster and a wild, rambling soul, he got his shit together in his late forties, cleaned up, helped countless others in their recovery, then graduated from law school.
For the past eight years, Rick channeled his expertise and drive into bringing NEED to a new level of organization and helped train a new, young generation of harm reduction workers. Rick was always a listener, questioning, respectful of almost everybody. At the exchange, clients adored him and respected his warmth, generosity, support and attention.
Earlier in 2008, Rick was instrumental in rebuilding the back loft area of the Long Haul. He had been a construction contractor and gracefully shared his knowledge of woodworking with the volunteer crew.
At 59, Rick Christofferson was too young to die, but ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) struck him down just when he was beginning yet another of the many chapters of his life. He died completely on his own terms, surrounded with love, light and tons of dignity. We will all miss Rick’s company, his work, his compassion, and his stories.