Elk Bend, Idaho » A generous heart, an innovative mind, tireless hands and an independent spirit.
That's how Richard Zimmerman, known to just about everyone as Dugout Dick, was remembered Saturday.
Dick died April 21 at age 94, having lived nearly his entire adult life in a cave above the Salmon River outside of Elk Bend.
A group of about 40 friends and admirers gathered at the Elk Bend Sports Lodge for a potluck to remember the man who, according to newspaper articles and television programs, personified Idaho's rugged individualism.
To those who knew him best, he embodied kindness.
"He did a lot more for me than I ever did for him," said Bruce Long, who rented a cave from Dick for the past seven years and moved in to care for Dick when his health started to fade.
Long marveled at Dick's ingenuity -- like the time he figured out how to make yogurt starter from moldy goat meat. Or when he built a levee with his hands to protect a cave from flooding.
Other friends, like Billie Flynn, remembered the time Dick chased off a moose with only a rake.
Dick eschewed electricity and running water for life inside a cave and living off the land. Old windows from pickup trucks covered the front of his cave. He made what he needed -- from the yogurt to a fly swatter. He raised goats and grew his own food. He earned a few bucks by renting out nearby caves to those passing through, or those wanting to stay longer.
The walls inside his dark cave are still decorated with family photos and old newspaper articles about him. It was a lifestyle that attracted those seeking a simple existence.
Between bites of deviled eggs, fruit salad and a hearty soup, those who were touched by Dick shared how they would remember him: "A tough old bird." "The spirit of a pioneer." "Eccentric." "A marvelous old man." "A ladies' man."
"A great friend."
A boom box played cassettes that Dick recorded of himself playing the guitar. His famous red hard-hat sat on the pool table, next to old photographs and the ancient leather shoes he preferred to mend rather than replace.
On the Sunday before he died, Long carried Dick to bed. Concerned about his failing health, Long asked Dick repeatedly if he wanted him to go and get help.
"'They can't help me,' that was the last thing (Dick) ever said," recalled Long, who moved to the caves from Connecticut after reading about Dick in a magazine.
Dick never got out of bed again.
"He died where he wanted to," Long said.
"His sense of humor and his love for everybody is why he lived so long," said friend Jim Thompson.
On Saturday, in Dick's cave just a few miles from the lodge, sat remnants of his recent life there: a bottle of apple juice, an unopened container of macaroni and cheese and a stack of mail.
94-year-old cave dweller dies in Idaho cave