Tributes to Rick Kissell, ‘A Fiery Spirit.’ Memorial Feb. 20, 2019 in Milwaukee

“While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” ― Eugene V. Debs

Dear family, friends, colleagues, and comrades,

It is with our deepest sorrow that we inform you of the death of our beloved Rick Kissell on February 10, 2019 at the age of 63 from complications following surgery. A celebration of his life will take place on Wednesday, February 20, 4-7 PM, with the eulogy beginning at 5 PM, at the Bruskiewitz Funeral Home, 5355 W Forest Home Ave, Milwaukee. We request you bring your thoughts, prayers, and fondest memories of Rick over the years. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be given to Peace Action-Wisconsin, 1001 E Keefe Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53212 or Voces de la Frontera, 1027 S 5th St, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

Rick was an intelligent, passionate, and caring person filled with purpose and a great sense of humor. His generosity, respect for all, and quick wit will be deeply missed. A graduate of South Milwaukee High School and a former student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was a pioneer in court interpreter services in the Milwaukee Area and dedicated three decades to his chosen profession. He was active in setting guidelines and training to improve interpreting and translation throughout the Wisconsin Court System. He was also very activein the peace, socialist, civil liberties, immigrant, civil rights, and labor movements. An avid reader, Rick loved discussing leftist politics, educating others on Milwaukee’s socialist heritage, communicating on his ham radio, enjoying live guitar concerts with his wife, and sharing donated books and documentaries with libraries and jails.

He is survived by his loving wife of 29 years Anna Maria “Annie” Espinoza, children René and Paul, stepson Lucas Alvarez, cousin James (Evelyn) Spice, aunt Virginia (the late William) Thomas, along with cousins, extended family, and friends.

“Signing off, WB9GYT.”

René: (414) 687-8457 or

Rick Kissell


Angela Walker, 2/14/19

When I was legislative director for ATU Local 998, I met a fellow who was an absolute treasury of information on Milwaukee’s socialist history. I believe my former union endorsed him in his bid for County Treasurer. This fellow, whose wit and plain speaking endeared him to me, convinced me to run against then-Sheriff David Clarke in 2014, which I would have never considered, had he not suggested it. He’s the reason a whole lot of y’all know me now, and his suggestion and support changed the course of my life.

My mentor and friend, Rick Kissell, passed from this life last Sunday. With his passing, an intelligent and fiercely justice-oriented spirit left this plane. May your family be wrapped in love, support and comfort, my friend. And may your fiery spirit be surrounded by light and joy. Journey well.


Latin American Solidarity Committee, 2/14/19

Today we mourn the loss of a good friend and activist who did a lot for us at LASC. Rick was a gifted interpreter and gave us many hours of his time interpreting for us when we had guest speakers from Latin America. He had a strong commitment to social justice. For that and many other reasons he will be missed. His death was a shock and he leaves behind a wife, a daughter and a son, and many friends. Rick Kissell, presente!

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