Ronald L. Richards
1948 - 2021
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Ronald L. Richards

Indianapolis - Ronald L. Richards, 73, of Indianapolis, Indiana passed away on Friday, March 26th, 2021. He was born March 24, 1948 to the late Frieda M. Richards and Robert L. Richards of Indianapolis. Ron graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1966 and was a 1971 graduate of Indiana University. He was a fraternity member of the Chi Phi fraternity, Iota Delta where he became the 19th recipient of the Walter L. Cronkite Jr. Award in 2019 for his contribution to education and science. His early passion for natural history and science paved the way for a long and distinguished career at the Indiana State Museum where he was the Senior Research Curator of Paleobiology. Ron also had a lifelong passion for the art of Okinawan martial arts.

Ron was survived by his beloved wife, Nancy L. Richards; children, Vince (Vikki) Conners, Kevin Conners, Tom (Lisa) Conners, Timothy Conners, Cindy Bailey, Kerry Richards, Gary Conners; sisters, Joy Jones, Janis Wilson; 22 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren; He is predeceased by sister Julee Wigginton.

Ron will be remembered for his incredible sense of humor, his kind heart and his dedication to the scientific community.

A Special note written by Damon Lowe -

As a child, he collected fossils and was introduced to caving as a boy scout.

While still in high school he began an excavation in a cave he later named Thundermug Bone Cave.

His first publication, "Vertebrate Remains from an Indiana Cave", was published in the Indiana Academy of Science journal while he was still attending Indiana University. He published dozens of more papers throughout his lifetime.

In the 1960's, he was a student of William "Dick" Adams at the "Bone Lab" at Indiana University where he learned the fundamentals of zoology and faunal analysis.

Ron began volunteering at the Indiana State Museum in 1979 and was soon hired on as a permanent member of the staff. His notable career included stints in the exhibits, security and ultimately, he became the Senior Research Curator of Paleobiology.

Throughout his 40+ years at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, he transformed the museum's Natural History collections, refining old collections and seeking ways of improving those collections through fieldwork.

He set a standard in researching collections and became one of only a handful of researchers in Indiana who specialized in the identification of faunal remains.

He went on his first large-scale mastodont excavation in 1980- The Kolarik Mastodon Dig- and was hooked. From that moment on, Ron meticulously developed a field program at the Indiana State Museum, focused on paleontological excavations, resulting in the excavation of 14 mammoths and mastodons. This program would result in the creation of one of the largest collections of Ice Age faunal material in the Midwest and the creation of a "Center of Excellence ' in Ice Age history at the ISMHS. His work at Megenity Cave exemplifies his tenacity and dedication. For over 30 years, he led field crews to excavate the cave, all the way down to bedrock. The excavations at Megenity proved to reveal an immense time capsule of Indiana history- like nothing else known for Indiana.

Because of his vision and tenacity, we have a deeper understanding of Indiana over a hundred-thousand-year time period.

Ron also received an award from CBS affiliate WISH-TV, Channel 8, as one of "Indiana's Own"

His humor and quirkiness were legendary, but so was his contribution to society.

A Celebration of Life will be held via Zoom in his honor at the Indiana State Museum on Friday April 9th at 8pm. Friends and family can find the Zoom link to join services at www.flannerbuchanan.com. In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to a charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Flanner Buchanan - Washington Park East.






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Published in The Indianapolis Star from Apr. 3 to Apr. 4, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
April 10, 2021
Deb & Randy Patrick
Friend
April 9, 2021
Ron and I with Greg James and Calvin Hardesty meet in the Boy Scouts that met at the Methodist Church on 10th Street. Ron was always funny and had a lot of ideas and plans. We went on frequent camping trips where Ron and some of us developed an interest in Fossils. We would follow creek beds for miles. Ron’s interest was the start of a lifetime career. He will be missed by all who had a chance to know him. Dave Osterhout
Dave Osterhout
Friend
April 9, 2021
Years of happy memories from New Harmony at The Working Men's Institute!
This picture is of Ron and Ryan Rockicki, Director of the WMI
Deb & Randy Patrick
Friend
April 8, 2021
Ron was and is my friend in this life and he will be my friend
In the next life. We are connected.
Chip DeNigris
Friend
April 7, 2021
Ron’s dedication to The State of Indiana and The Indiana State Museum encompassed his whole life’s being. Anyone who met him was impressed by his expertise, enthusiasm, and his knowledge of paleontology. My husband, Gerhard Gennrich, always talked highly of Ron as a friend, mentor, “colleague”, and the contributor to his best years of life volunteering at The Indiana State Museum.
In loving memory of Ron and Gerhard,
Jeanne Gennrich
Friend
April 7, 2021
Ron’s dedication to The State of Indiana and The Indiana State Museum encompassed his whole life’s being. Anyone who met him was impressed by his expertise, enthusiasm, and his knowledge of paleontology. My husband, Gerhard Gennrich, always talked highly of Ron as a friend, mentor, “colleague”, and the contributor to his best years of life volunteering at The Indiana State Museum.
In loving memory of Ron and Gerhard,
Jeanne Gennrich
Jeanne Gennrich
Friend
April 6, 2021
I went through high school with Ron. Played tag football in Woodruff Place with him and several of our friends. Enjoyed his company at the "Woodruff" reunions down on Lake Hollybrook in southern Indiana. This was a yearly event. He was a kind and gentle spirit and will be truly missed.
Jennifer (Robertson) Brown
Friend
April 6, 2021
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Karen Weliever
April 5, 2021
I'll miss Ron so much. He was one of the most wonderful colleagues I have known and a true giant of paleontology of the midwest, and one of the kindest people ever.
David Polly
Coworker
April 4, 2021
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
Dan Hurt
Family
April 3, 2021
Ronnie was the light of our life when we were growing up. That never stopped, to his dying day. He was a force of nature; always inquisitive, always thinking, always fun. He was laser focused on his interests and was kind enough to include my son on his quest for mastering the martial arts. There will never be another person like him.
JOY R JONES
Sister
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