Ricardo Ernesto Torres, known as Rich, loved helping others, tipped generously and never shied away from a good time.
"Rich was mischievous," said longtime friend Erika Meldahl. "He was always like a kid — he was young at heart and in spirit."
Torres, of Deephaven, died at his home on Oct. 22 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He was 56.
Born in Arizona in 1966, Torres grew up mostly in Sonora, Calif., the fourth of five children in a family where nearly everyone became an engineer. As a child and throughout his life, "he lived to be in the water," whether spearfishing, swimming or scuba diving, said his wife, Donni Torres.
While attending the University of California, Davis, he crafted his own major, blending managerial and agricultural economics. There he met his wife, with whom he shared a birthday. The two married in 1994 and had two children — a son, Carter, and a daughter, Frankie, now in their 20s.
"He always made me laugh and I always could count on him for anything," Donni Torres said.
She recalled their adventurous family vacations, like snorkeling with their young children or cliff diving in Croatia.
Her husband, who ran more than 20 Twin Cities marathons, found a way to combine two things he loved: running and furry friends.
He'd often call up neighbors and ask to take their dog running. Torres wasn't a big man, and together, the large dogs he ran with — mostly doodles — outweighed him.
He once officiated a canine wedding between his family's dog, Penny, and the Meldahls' dog, Monte, on Madeline Island, invoking the power vested in him by Scooby-Doo.
He would take various dogs to Von Hanson's Meats just to buy them bones and treats, Meldahl said.
"[Dogs] just wanted to be near him. It was amazing. He was definitely a whisperer," Meldahl said.
Of special significance were the Torreses' annual trips to Las Vegas with two other couples; together, the six called themselves the Unicorn Club. Torres enjoyed gambling and giving "ginormous tips" at the casino, his wife said.
"We all promised Rich we would stay together," Meldahl said of the club.
Torres spent 33 years working for Cargill, rising to vice president of trading and merchandising in the starches, sweeteners and texturizers division.
Andy Joehl, a trading and merchandising leader at Cargill, worked for Torres for two stints totaling five years. He recalled the dramatic risks Torres took in the markets, which contrasted with his consistently calm demeanor.
"He was the opposite of a micromanager. He gave you the full autonomy to do the things you need to do," Joehl said, adding that Torres always made time to answer questions.
Torres owned a vast collection of Hawaiian-style shirts with goofy patterns and donned a purple suit around the holidays. He was known for his sense of humor at work, too, Joehl said.
"We miss his presence on the trading floor in a big way," he said.
In the spring of 2021, Torres went to the doctor for hip pain. By fall, he was diagnosed with an aggressive case of ALS, Donni Torres said. He ate his last meal — champagne and wedding cake — on Sept. 10, the couple's wedding anniversary.
Even while dying, he typed out emails offering advice or congratulations to others, she said.
Co-workers from Cargill went above and beyond, she said, holding a poker tournament for ALS that raised $100,000, visiting the Torreses' home to do yard work and compiling a book of anecdotes and advice Torres had doled out for his children.
In addition to his wife and children, Torres is survived by his mother Elvia, siblings Ylianna, Frank, Enrique and Roberto, many nieces and nephews and a great-niece. A celebration of life is planned for Dec. 29 at the Metropolitan Ballroom in Golden Valley.