ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The day was bittersweet for those who knew Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis. A new fountain sits at the entrance of the Balloon Museum. Thursday, family and friends were there to dedicate the fountain, four years to the day they went missing.
“It was so beautiful…You could hear the burner in the balloon going. I felt like Richard and Carol were whispering to us this morning,” said Mayor Richard Berry.
As dawn patrol took to the sky, family, friends and visitors gathered to honor Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer-Davis.
In 2010, Abruzzo and his co-pilot Rymer-Davis left from Bristol, England, competing in the sport’s most prestigious competition, the Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race. They won the race in 2004 but six years later, a storm off the coast of Italy brought down their balloon.
Thursday, a fountain was dedicated in their memory.
“I don’t have a lot of words for you today,” Mayor Berry said. Mayor Richard Berry was close friends with Richard Abruzzo. “It just really reminds us all that life is short, life is fragile but let’s go out there every day and live it to its fullest and that’s what Richard and Carol did and they’re reminding us every day to push forward,” Berry said.
Widow Nancy Abruzzo sat with her children Mary, Pat and Rico as Berry dedicated the fountain.
“I think he would be incredibly, incredibly touched. I mean, I know how passionate he was about the sport and so to feel everybody’s love and joy and support, he would truly be overwhelmed,” Abruzzo says.
She says the fountain has found the perfect home in front of the Balloon Museum, a tribute for the kind of adventurous, extreme sporting Abruzzo and Rymer-Davis did.
Nancy says, the fountain, too, is symbolic.
“It really encompasses the water element and also the etched globe really does lend itself to the long-distance ballooning and the sport of ballooning,” explained Abruzzo.
A local landscape artist came up with the idea for the globe. From start to finish, it took over a year to complete the project.
“Short of a miracle! It seems like, because it was a bumpy road to get it here but it’s here so everything happens for a reason and to have it installed the date that they went missing was really symbolic to me. It was a place of peace that I felt,” Abruzzo said.
Nancy says one of the best parts of the fountain is the fact it’s interactive.
“It’s been a joy to watch all the children interact with the globe. It does serve a tribute to amazing pilots but it also becomes an educational piece and we’re hoping to expand that in the museum,” Abruzzo said.
The Richard Abruzzo Foundation funded the fountain.