Rick is a Jersey Boy…NORTH JERSEY! Born (1955) and raised in Totowa, New Jersey, 20 miles from Manhattan, he attended all three Totowa grammar schools. He graduated Passaic Valley High School (Hornets) in Little Falls, New Jersey, and was President of his Senior Class of 1973. He got his Bachelor’s Degree in Advertising from Penn State University in 1977.
Rick was introduced to the world of art and creativity by his parents, Audrey and Emil DeDonato. His mom could look at anything and draw it. His Dad owned an advertising agency in Manhattan, where Rick loved to hang out with the artists and designers. Everyone was creative there!
Rick’s parents were always encouraging him and his two older brothers, Ralph and Bob, to learn everything they could about everything New York had to offer, from visiting museums to seeing Broadway plays to cheering at Yankees games!
Rick’s Dad taught him the greatest lesson of his life, “If you run into a rock…you can stay there and keep banging your head against that rock…or go around it and keep moving forward.” Thanks Dad…that advice has carried me through a lot!
Rick’s first job out of Penn State was at a NYC ad agency as a junior art director. He credits learning how to think creatively to his mentor David Wiseltier, who was Creative Director of the agency. From there Rick made it to Madison Avenue and worked for Doyle Dane Bernbach as an art director.
These days Rick spends his time creating marketing and advertising campaigns.
He writes and art directs and produces all forms of advertising for print, radio, and TV. He has worked with and directed actress S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita VanBuren, Law and Order) and Steve Allen (comedian and talk show host) and has won several major advertising awards for his creative work, including two east coast ADDY awards.
Rick got married in Philadelphia (1984) and had two children, Alexis (1984) and Matt (1990), and although the marriage didn’t work out, being a Dad has been the greatest success of his life! Fatherhood started Rick on the road to writing books! He wrote personal stories and created books for his kids. Pipsie is a friend Alexis made up when she was little, and she appeared in stories Rick and Alexis used to write and draw—The Adventures of Pipsie and Alexis! Alfred Z. Turtle who is Pipsie’s sidekick, is the cousin of Matt’s pet turtle, Alfred E. Turtle.
It’s not surprising that both of Rick’s children are finding success in creative professions. Alexis is a theater actress living in California, and she has performed on Broadway, on national tours, and on TV shows and commercials. Matt is a professional barber and also lead singer and songwriter for a very cool and popular band that performs from Brooklyn to Baltimore.
The glowing light in Rick’s life is Nancy McAleer, who has given him friendship, love and inspiration since 1998. “Nancy completed our family,” says Rick. “She showed my kids what love should be. She was a wonderful ‘other mother’ to them, always at their plays, performances, schools, games…anywhere she was needed.” Rick and Nancy enjoy a ridiculously busy life with their dogs, Tugger and Nacho, and, of course, their turtle, Alfred E. Turtle, in Wilmington, Delaware.