Beloved courthouse candy vendor loses battle with cancer

Fox 26 News Reporter Angela Chen

- SAD UPDATE: Beloved courthouse candy seller lost his battle with cancer this morning.

RICK'S COURAGEOUS CANCER FIGHT:

Several months ago, on their walk to the Harris County Courthouse, attorneys noticed an unsettling silence. A voice was missing. The steps wrong without the flashes of bright yellow paper.

Rick Johnson   the man who, for more than 10 years, sold peanut M&M’s and gum and anything else lawyers needed outside the courthouse  –  was missing.

“Somebody hired their private investigator to go find him, and they tracked him down,” said Chris Tritico, a criminal defense attorney and Fox 26 legal analyst.

The search led them to Rick's cramped apartment in Midtown. They found that he had lost weight he's now under 120 pounds and he cannot move on his own.

Rick had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and leukemia.

“I lost weight, don't want to eat,” said Rick Johnson. “I'm miserable.”

But his joy came back in waves. He loved talking about the courthouse.

“I had a man come out of jail. He said ‘Man, I've been gone ten years. You still here, and you doing good!’” said Johnson.

And he loves the friends he's made at the courthouse. Our legal analyst Chris Tritico has known him for a decade, and Rick lit up when he visited.

“Don't worry, be happy!” Johnson sang upon seeing Tritico. “Chris Tritico got your back, don't worry, be happy! Chris Tritico got your back!”

That's what he was known for: singing until you couldn't help but crack a smile.

“I'm a Texas Aggie so he would always say 'Get ‘em, Aggies!' the moment he saw me coming. And he would say it until I acknowledged him and smiled, and he understood that he made my day. And I was not special. He does that for everyone,” said Shanna Hennigan, a criminal defense attorney.

His presence and now, absence, was so strong that attorneys  are now going out of their way to his home to show he is loved.

“He's just this happy guy who wants to be a part of society,” said Tritico. “He doesn't have much. He just wants to be a part of what everybody else is doing.”

Now, what everybody else is doing is helping Rick when he needs it most. Attorneys have pitched in for his medical care, and a Go Fund Me page has been set up for him.

Rick's caregiver did say he is now in hospice care, but they’re hopeful he’ll regain the strength to go through chemotherapy. In the meantime, Rick said he loves receiving and reading cards from people.

If you'd like to write him one, send it to our station at 4261 Southwest Frwy, Houston, TX 77027, and we'll make sure it gets delivered to Rick.


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