SALT LAKE CITY — When Dustin Dowdle, a member of a local Utah board game designing group, was writing a blog post about fellow designer Rick Lorenzon, he asked a third member of the group about their mutual friend.
The person said that the first time they tried to open up and talk about board game design with someone else, Lorenzon was the first person they met. The board gaming community is one filled with many introverts, Dowdle said, but Lorenzon was inviting, sweet and helpful. He made the person feel welcome from the very beginning, Dowdle recalled.
"That story was kind of a common one in Rick's life," Dowdle said. "Everybody felt like they were Rick's best friend, everybody felt like they were welcome by him. He was just such a thoughtful, good person through and through."
Dowdle said Rick Lorenzon was "the nicest guy anyone could ever meet." He was the type of person to remember who you were after meeting you just once, Dowdle added. Feeling welcome and comfortable around Lorenzon was an experience that almost everyone who knew him shared.
"You just felt like you had always known the guy," he said. "He just made you that comfortable to just sit and chat and hang out."
Lorenzon was a dedicated board game hobbyist and a consistent member of the Board Game Designers Guild of Utah, a group where board game designers can share games they are developing and "playtest" them with others.
"He's been just really generous with his time," said Tim Fowers, a game designer who knew Lorenzon. "He was just a really generous guy — super kind."
Lorenzon would help playtest games and often wouldn't ask for anything in return, Fowers said.
Lorenzon and his wife had been working on two of their own board games, including a steampunk-themed game called "Chrysopoeia: Lords of Alchemy," according to Alf Seegert, a game designer who had known Lorenzon for 30 years.
"They were both beautiful designs," said Seegert, who has published 12 of his own board games and is currently a professor at the University of Utah. "His love for games was palpable."
Seegert met Lorenzon in the early 1990s at Hansen Planetarium, where they both worked as guides. They quickly bonded over their shared loves of astronomy, video games and electric guitar.
"I immediately liked him and soon discovered how smart, creative, friendly and kind he was," Seegert said.
Lorenzon also had a quirky side, Seegert added. He would show up to work in a Darth Vader costume one day, and the next he'd show up in a kilt playing bagpipes.
Fowers, who is also a bagpiper, bonded with Lorenzon through that hobby, he said. Lorenzon spent time in Scotland when he was younger and shared photos with Fowers from his time there.
Dowdle also said "Chrysopoeia" is a stunning game.
"Everybody who sees it just stops and has to look," Dowdle said. "He just has the most amazing way of putting polish on a game to just make it shine and make it look amazing."
Lorenzon's Twitter feed was filled with "infectious enthusiasm" for board gaming, Seegert said, adding that it was common to see him at the annual SaltCon gaming convention and other local board gaming events.
"I still can't fathom the heartbreak of this loss. Rick was such a rare soul, as generous and good-natured as he was dedicated and creative," Seegert said. "I will miss him greatly."