By not allowing Hongisto to resign, the city deprived him of a substantial pension. It was shortly thereafter that Houskeeper and Dennis Sanfilippo, who had recently won the California Lottery, ran into Hongisto.
"Sanfilippo hired him to do security for a homeless benefit concert," Houskeeper said. "It was the first time somebody -- at that very low point in Dick's life -- had reached out. His [third] wife had just filed for divorce. He'd lost his retirement. He'd lost everything."
Hongisto bounced back, building a security company of his own. But tragedy struck in 1994, when his fourth wife died of a crack cocaine-induced asthma attack. Then, in 1998, his business -- and later he -- filed for bankruptcy. But he picked up the pieces. Hongisto lost bids for supervisor and the assessor's seat in 2000 and 2002, but recently was doing "better than ever," Donald Hongisto said.
His death came of an apparent heart attack, after another chapter of domestic distress. Friends say Hongisto had been arguing with his 31-year-old live-in girlfriend early Thursday. He had asked the general manager of his security firm to come to the couple's apartment. The men were preparing to leave together when Hongisto collapsed in the kitchen.
The San Francisco medical examiner's officer said an investigation into the cause of death is pending.
In addition to his brother, Hongisto is survived by two children, Richard Joseph Colton Hongisto and Ashley Elizabeth Colton Hongisto.