Rick Kaminski made a name for himself at Shoreline Community College long before gaining notoriety as the Seattle Mariners Peanut Man. At Shoreline, he was on the student government ballot several times before earning enough student votes to be named a student legislator and eventually, president of the student body.
Kaminski studied at Shoreline from 1972-1975, taking mostly evening courses so he could work during the day. Although he graduated in 1973, he returned the summer of 1974 and completed another 12 classes.
SCC retiree and former student, Mark Durfee remembers Kaminski well, saying he was a very likeable guy.
“Over the top friendly, always upbeat and outgoing,” Durfee said, recalling also how opinionated and passionate he was about just about anything. According to Durfee, Kaminski cared a great deal about
student involvement and voice in college governance and oftentimes talked about student government not really listening to students.
Jeff Keith took an evening math class with Kaminski. “He was a very lively, outgoing fellow and yet had a serious side to him,” he recalls. “He was a very deep thinker.” Keith also remembers Kaminski as the class clown…”a little bit,” he said.
A man of action, Kaminski ran for Student Body Legislator in 1972.
In an edition of The Ebbtide, he provided a self-drawn, silly image of himself with the caption, “Crasy Rick.” While other candidates provided a more conventional side, their platforms were weak compared to Kaminski’s, who said he would strive for better communication between students, their government and their school and cultivate student interest in college issues. Although he didn’t earn enough votes that year, he landed the position the following year.
Durfee said it was his passion to help others that motivated Kaminski to then run for student body president.
“Several of us encouraged him to run,” Durfee said. Kaminski was a little leery at first because most the students who voted in student government elections were day students and didn’t know him. Durfee encouraged him to talk to everybody in his night classes and ask them to vote for him. Kaminski did and ran a solid campaign.
He nearly scolded students in an Ebbtide article.
“You may hear complaints or complain yourself about such things as cafeteria food quality and prices, bookstore prices, parking lot priorities and the price of stickers. If you aren’t interested enough in your own total experience here to get involved yourself, then at least see that your problems are answered by someone who is interested enough to do something about them!” Kaminski reminded students that he had more experience in student government than any other candidate and that he would fight for fairer treatment of student priorities. Once again, he didn’t score but he was determined to make sure that the voice of students was heard by administration, winning the presidency the second time around in May of 1974.
Not afraid to speak the truth, Kaminski won the election after pointing out the ineffectiveness of the current president and vice president, saying they had won only by popularity votes. In an article published in the April 25, 1974 edition of The Ebbtide he pointed out their failure to accomplish anything of significance. Kaminski said that although more than 800 students had signed a petition for student activity money to support the building of a day care center and tennis courts on campus that neither had happened nor was there any communication as to why. “This is not representation! That is not communication!,” he said before telling students that as a legislator he had made it his “chief concern” to invest student money to be used to benefit students. Kaminski was smart. He did his research and told students what he found.
“Student government can be effective, but not when it stands still, refuses to communicate, and won’t answer to the needs of the people it is here to serve.”
Kaminski held high expectations for not only himself as president, but for his Executive Board. Although they were paid only fall, winter and spring quarters, he asked that they meet in the summer to prepare objectives for Fall Quarter. He also took the State Board to task refusing to comply with a directive to provide personal information about students as they had a right for privacy. He led Student Government in voting for a Resolution to prevent the college from sending the information.
After his year as president of the student body, Kaminski left the college, eventually going on to work at the King Dome where he gained local fame as the Mariner’s Peanut Man. Durfee, who had a part-time position for many years at the dome, had many more opportunities to interact with Kaminski.
“He was more fun that the events,” Durfee said, referring not only to the peanut throwing antics but the energy that Kaminski drew around him. One of his favorite memories was the night that the two of them were asked to lead a Sonics audience in singing the National Anthem. “It was so embarrassing…neither of us could sing!”
Durfee said that the Mariner’s Scott, the Beerman was also a Shoreline student. “He and Rick were friends.”
In Kaminski's memory, the Shoreline Community College Foundation has established an athletic scholarship.
"It is a wonderful way to pay tribute to his life and to his service as Student Body President while he was attending the college," said Jane McNabb, Executive Director of the Foundation. Contributions to the Rick Kaminski Memorial Scholarship Fund should be mailed to the Shoreline Community College Foundation, 16101 Greenwood Ave. North, Shoreline, WA 98133 or online at www.shoreline.edu/foundation
Kaminski died of a brain aneurysm at the age of 67 on July 27, 2011 as reported in the Seattle PI.