R. Arnold Ricks III

Ricks—R. Arnold Ricks III, 94, on February 24, 2018, at home in Bennington, Vt. Arnold was born on August 23, 1923, in Richmond, Va., to Anne Elizabeth Ryland and James Hoge Ricks. His father, a member of Richmond (Va.) Meeting, was from a long-established Quaker family and served as a pioneering judge of the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court for 40 years, and his mother was from a Baptist family associated with the development of the University of Richmond. A lifelong Quaker, Arnold served in the Civilian Public Service as a conscientious objector. In 1941–1943, he spent his time firefighting, doing reforestation in Oregon’s wilderness region, and subjecting himself to experiments with hepatitis, which he contracted. In 1945 he joined the British–American relief team in rebuilding Cologne, Germany, where he helped to build a children’s center.

Originally a member of the Haverford College class of 1945, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in philosophy in 1948. After earning a master’s in European history from Harvard University in 1954, he taught history at Swarthmore College. In 1963, he began teaching at Bennington College, where he also served two years as dean of studies. A beloved teacher, he spoke of classes as an “assault on the unknown and the imperfectly known.” In 1972 he married Pat Adams, a painter and colleague at Bennington College, and after a four-month sabbatical in 1973, traveling through Europe and the Middle East with his stepsons, Matthew and Jason, they settled in Old Bennington, Vt. Starting in 1974, he served as a trustee of the Village of Old Bennington and as road commissioner, overseeing the design and reconstruction of Monument Avenue, the village road leading to the Bennington Battle Monument, ensuring that the historic road would be in narrow keeping with its environs, which go back to when the first frame house in Vermont was built in Bennington in 1763—a house still in use.

For decades he made generous contributions to Richmond (Va.) Meeting. He retired from Bennington College in 1992. Three years later, the mayor of Cologne, who as a child had benefited from the British–American relief team’s work, led a celebration in honor of him and the other surviving team members. When he retired as a trustee of Old Bennington in 2014, the villagers presented him with an inscribed bench on the grass island in front of the Old First Church. As a trustee of the Bennington Museum from 1995 to 2015, he helped initiate a period of growth and revitalization for the museum, for which in 2013 it created the Hiland Hall Award to recognize his service. He lived as George Fox said, “[walking] cheerfully over the world answering that of God in everyone.”

Arnold is survived by his wife, Pat Adams; two stepchildren, Matthew A. Longo and Jason R. Longo; a niece, Francie Ricks; three grandchildren; and many Ryland cousins in Virginia. His remains rest in Old Bennington Cemetery. Donations to American Friends Service Committee or the Bennington Museum in care of the Hanson Walbridge & Shea Funeral Home, 213 West Main Street, Bennington, VT 05201, are welcome.

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