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R. Arnold Ricks III


1923 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
R. Arnold Ricks III Obituary
R. Arnold Ricks III, retired professor of Modern European History at Bennington College and long-time trustee of Old Bennington, died at his home in Bennington, Vermont, on Saturday, February 24, 2018. He was 94.

Born in Richmond, Virginia, on August 23, 1923, he was the son of James Hoge Ricks and Anne Elizabeth Ryland. His father, from a long-established Quaker family, was a pioneering judge of the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court where he served for 40 years. His mother was from a Baptist family associated with the development of the University of Richmond

A life-long Quaker, Arnold served as a conscientious objector in the Civilian Public Service. From 1941-1943, he served in a firefighting and reforestation unit in the wilderness region of Oregon, and participated as a subject in experiments with hepatitis, which he contracted. In 1945, he joined the British-American relief work team in the rebuilding of Cologne, Germany, which included the construction of a children's center. Fifty years later, the mayor of Cologne, one of the children who benefitted from their work, led a celebration in honor of Arnold and the other surviving team members.

As a member of the class of 1945, Arnold graduated Phi Beta Kappa in philosophy from Haverford College in 1948. Following his graduate study in European History at Harvard University (A.M. 1954), he taught history at Swarthmore College before joining the Bennington College faculty from 1963-1992, and for two years of that time, served as Dean of Studies. As a beloved teacher, he spoke of "classes as an assault on the unknown, and the imperfectly known."

In 1972 Arnold married Pat Adams, a painter and colleague at Bennington College. In 1973, on a 4-month sabbatical, they traveled through Europe and the Middle-East with stepsons Matthew and Jason. In June of that year, the family became residents of Old Bennington.

Beginning the following year, and for the next 40 years, Arnold served the community as a trustee of the Village of Old Bennington and as Road Commission. He oversaw the design and reconstruction of Monument Avenue, the village road leading to the Bennington Battle Monument. In an interview taken at the time of its construction, he said "The road is narrow in keeping with the historic nature of its environs. It goes back to when the first frame house in Vermont was built in Bennington in 1763, and that house is still in use. This is indeed an historic avenue, and it's our task to pass it on to the rising generations."

Upon his retirement as a trustee of Old Bennington, the villagers presented Arnold with the gift of an inscribed bench placed on the grass island in front of the Old First Church in appreciation of his service.

As a trustee of the Bennington Museum from 1995 to 2015, Arnold helped initiate a period of growth and revitalization for the museum. In 2013, the Museum created the Hiland Hall Award to recognize Arnold's service to the museum, and the Bennington community.

Arnold's way of "being among us" was evident in his all interactions in whatever circumstances. His life was his Quaker witness enjoined by George Fox to "walk cheerfully over the world answering that of God in everyone."

Arnold is survived by his wife Pat Adams, stepsons Matthew A. Longo of Cambridge, MA, and Jason R. Longo of Duxbury, VT; his niece Francie Ricks of La Crosse, WI; his three grandsons Nicholas, Oliver, and William; and many Ryland cousins in Virginia. His remains will rest in the Old Bennington Cemetery. A celebration of Arnold's life will take place on June 2, 2018, at 3:00pm, in the Carriage Barn on the grounds of the Park-McCullough House in North Bennington. The service will be under the care of the Bennington Friends Meeting. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Friends Service Committee or the Bennington Museum in care of the Hanson Walbridge & Shea Funeral Home, 213 West Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201.[ml($SheaFFH1.jpg)]
Published in Bennington Banner on Mar. 1, 2018
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