Man found in marina remembered for saving another's life

CREATED Oct 22, 2013 - UPDATED: Oct 22, 2013

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RACINE - The irony of it all is what few at the Reefpoint Marina can understand.  58-year-old Rick Franzese saved a life just a few years ago on the Root River. But there was no one to save him when he needed it.  

Franzese loved boating.  He named his boat "Sea's My Pay" and he was among the first to the docks in the morning and the last to leave at night.  He spent much of his time on the water with three close friends. They took vacations together and all wore the same gold coin, an 1852 coin bearing the picture of Napoleon Bonaparte.  

Kathryn Kuhn-Dirkse was with Rick the day he saved a life in 2005.

 "And we kept hearing this screaming and we looked up and up in a window, there was somebody pointing and screaming that there was somebody in the water," said Kuhn-Dirkse.
Without hesitation, Rick jumped in to the mucky waters of the Root River and held onto that man until help arrived.  That memory now haunts her.
"This isn't just some guy that slipped and died. You know, there's somebody else that's still alive because of him," said Kuhn-Dirkse.
The city of Racine even gave him an award for his bravery.  It isn't clear exactly how Rick drowned. And we may never know the answer.  With winter nearing, most boats have already cleared out of their slips. 
"Without people, like it is bustling in the summer, you're, ya know, there's nobody there to help you," said Kuhn-Dirkse.
Kathryn and her husband went down to the docks Monday night where they could feel closer to their beloved friend. They sprinkled popcorn in the water because Rick loved it so much.
"And just as we said our goodbyes, this giant fish jumped and it was just so, it was just solemn and sad and so many great memories," said Kuhn-Dirkse.