"Bill Rickman was a friend, as well as a prominent Delaware businessman," Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said in a statement. "He has made significant contributions to our state and the Delaware horse racing industry, and he will be sorely missed."Rickman is survived by his companion Dean Jones, son William Jr. of Rockville, Md., daughters Sheila Kessinger and Zoe Roa, also of Rockville, Cynthia Rickman of Virginia Beach, Va., Lynn Green of Towson, Md., and 10 grandchildren.Green told the Wilmington News-Journal that funeral arrangements are incomplete. She said a memorial service will be held at Delaware Park.
William M. Rickman Sr., who was instrumental in helping to save Delaware Park in the mid-1980s after it had closed due to declining business and competition from nearby racetracks, died Sept. 30 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Md. He was 84.Rickman was also a horse breeder and founder of the W. M. Rickman Construction Co. in Rockville, Md. His son, William M. Rickman, Jr., is president of Delaware Park.Rickman Sr. bought Delaware Park in 1983 in partnership with William Christmas after it had closed on Sept. 6, 1982. The track reopened in the spring of 1984, and Rickman bought out Christmas in 1985 to assume sole ownership. In 1995, slot machines were legalized in the state, bringing higher purses and better horses to the Stanton backstretch.