Memorial dedicated to Richard Wirick 'Mr. Downtown'
Richard Wirick won't soon be forgotten, thanks, in part, to a memorial at Gallivan Plaza to the man known as "Mr. Downtown."
The proprietor of the Oxford Shop for six decades, Wirick was remembered by family, friends and colleagues Thursday as an eternal optimist who championed Salt Lake City through good times and bad.
In February, while rushing to a meeting of the Downtown Alliance, Wirick, 82, was struck and killed by a bus near the corner of 400 South and 200 East. The sudden death of the longtime merchant and Salt Lake City stalwart brought shock and dismay to merchants and downtown regulars.
To remember him, a bronze plaque has been embedded in the pavement just south of the Gallivan Plaza's Olympic Tower. It pays homage to Wirick for his civic pride, his amiable disposition, and the respect he gave to everyone who met him, said Camille Winnie of the Downtown Alliance.
"Creating a monument downtown on Main Street for Richard is a great thing," she said. "It will be here forever for people to see and remember him."
Bill Knowles of Salt Lake City's Downtown Rising, said he could describe Wirick in one word: "Caring."
"Dick was always concerned with everything around him. He cared about business owners, customers and the community," Knowles said. "I hope this will serve as a model for what we all should be."
Wirick kept pace with everything going on downtown, said Mayor Ralph Becker.
"We all knew and loved Dick," the mayor said. "He was a treasure for us."
Gallivan Plaza is the right place for a Wirick memorial, Becker noted.
"Dick was always at the center of our community. He was a tireless advocate for downtown."
Pam O'Mara, who owns Utah's Artist Hands next door to the Oxford Shop, said Wirick loved people and loved helping them.
"Everyone who went into his shop had a good friend," she said. "It's grand and it's cool that he's getting his recognition."
Downtown was the Oxford Shop proprietor's life, according to his son, Steve Wirick.
"This is a wonderful honor for my Dad," his son said. "He was Mr. Downtown."
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