Rick Desloge: Veteran St. Louis Business Journal reporter
Rick Desloge, a talented and prolific St. Louis Business Journal writer as comfortable with profiles of do-gooders as exposés of financial malefactors, was incredulous when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a year ago.
“I’ve just been struck by lightning,” he blogged on the CaringBridge networking site for people with life-threatening illnesses shortly after his diagnosis last May. But he quickly declared, “I’m going to fight this.”
And so he did, with the characteristic optimism, equanimity and generosity of spirit for which he was known.
“I don’t think that Rick ever had a bad day,” said his friend since high school days, Mark Abels. “He was always happy and upbeat. Over the course of the last year, had someone not told me he was suffering from this terrible disease, I would never have known.
“Rick was just a fabulous guy who enjoyed life so much and he shared that joy.”
Mr. Desloge died of complications from pancreatic cancer Monday at his home in Kirkwood. He was 63.
A memorial will be held at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Jewel Box in Forest Park where he and Nancy Solomon Desloge, communications director for Saint Louis University Medical Center, were married 30 years ago.
Mr. Desloge had been a St. Louis Business Journal reporter and editor for nearly three decades. Until a few weeks ago, he had continued covering his beats, writing his regular "St. Louis Character" feature and providing twice-daily Business Journal updates on KMOX radio (1120 AM).
He joined the Business Journal just four years after American City Business Journals started its St. Louis publication in 1980. His beats included the courts, small business, media, finance, transportation and the aerospace and defense industries. But he may have been best known for 'St. Louis Character.'
"His'Character' stories were just phenomenal and showed insight into the human condition,” said Business Journal publisher, Ellen Sherberg. “He had magic.”
Sherberg said he also had the best sources in town.
“I think he talked to everybody; everybody knew him,” Sherberg said. “He was never too busy to take a phone call and he always returned calls. He was the first person people called when they heard a scoop.”
Abels credited Mr. Desloge’s inquisitive nature for his storytelling abilities.
“He was as curious as a kid,” Abels said. “He had an interest in everything and there was nothing he couldn’t make interesting. Everybody’s story excited him.”
Before joining the Business Journal, Mr. Desloge wrote for the Traveler’s Inside Report in San Francisco and worked at KPLR-TV (Channel 11). He had also worked for the Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. That’s where he met former colleague Jim Baer, now editor of the Ladue-Frontenac Patch.com.
“We put Rick on the hard assignments, the big assignments and the stories with guys you had to crack,” Baer said. “He would stay on the case long enough to draw out people’s feelings and emotions.
“He was a born-again reporter with great instincts and an expertise for multi-tasking.”
Baer said Mr. Desloge never wrote a sports story, but he could have.
“He knew as much about sports as the guys in the sports department,” Baer said. “He had an amazing depth of knowledge about the (Mizzou) Tigers, the (SLU) Billikens, the Blues and the Cardinals.”
The sports enthusiast
Sports metaphors were liberally sprinkled throughout his CaringBridge journal. On July 28, 2011, he wrote: As I’m posting this, my outlook seems to be improving, more so than the St. Louis Cardinals who this evening just lost 5-3 to the Astros.”
As the Cardinals’ miraculously entered the post-season, he was prescient in his wish – careful not to call it a prediction – for “something dramatic in the World Series.”
There was one sport in which he was an active participant: cycling.
For more than 15 years, he had made the MS 150, the annual ride for Muscular Dystrophy, part of his rites of fall, becoming one of the event’s top fundraisers. The rides continued, even after his health ebbed.
Last September, his wife joined him for the MS 150.
“Nancy and I rode it together —75 miles on a tandem over two days,” he proudly wrote. “It was Nancy’s longest ride, and it was a milestone for me.”
They rode together again in October as part of “Team Desloge,” a cycling group formed by his friends and family to ride in “Pedal for the Cause.” Pedal supports several medical entities, including Siteman Cancer Center, where he was treated.
With characteristic humor, Mr. Desloge said of the 50-mile ride: “We set no land speed records.... The full enchilada took four hours or so, and it was truly a team effort (the team was organized by attorney Norman Pressman and included son, Nick).”
A fork in the road
Richard Conn Desloge Jr. was born in St. Louis on Nov. 16, 1948, the son of Richard Conn Desloge and Kathleen McAuliffe Desloge. He graduated from Saint Louis University High School in 1967 and subsequently received a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
His numerous honors included a Missouri Press Association award and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers award, which he received in 2001. It was the same year he wrote and published "Hell on Keels: The Saga of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 12: A Story of Wooden Boats and Iron Men."
Like all of his work, his journal entries were carefully crafted, but these writings were filled with gratitude.
The first was titled "A Fork in the Road" and ended with “I’m counting my blessings.” The final included: “Thank God for my family. My siblings and close friends were also there to help.”
Mr. Desloge was preceded in death by his father.
In addition to his wife and mother, of University City, he is survived by his sons, Richard “Rick” Henry Desloge, who’s currently on a national tour with the musical "Wicked," Nicholas “Nick” Tizer Desloge, a consultant in Washington, D.C.; his siblings, Suzie (Charlie) Weiss, Ladue, Jim (Janet) Desloge, St. Charles, Ellen (Rick) Gray, Ladue, and Dan (Chris) Desloge, Des Peres.
A memorial service will be held at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the Jewel Box in Forest Park.
Mr. Desloge donated his body to Saint Louis University School of Medicine.