HICKEY, Ralph

HICKEY, Ralph James "Jim" (70), born September 4, 1950, in Brighton, Massachusetts, died September 27, 2020, at home in Oxford, Ohio. Jim is survived by Danette, his wife of 33 years, and sons Sean, Alex (Ashley), and Ryan. He was the proud grandfather of Wyatt Konrad. Jim is also survived by his brother Thomas (Chris) Hickey of Bridgewater, MA, his brothers-in-law Dave (Jill) Russell and Jerry (Amanda) Russell, sister-in-law Donna (Jim) Scarborough, and mother-in-law Joy Russell, and an uncle and aunt, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents Ralph Burgess Hickey and Delores Lapham Hickey. Jim graduated from Brighton High School in 1968, and attended Bridgewater State College (B.A., Biology, 1972). He then attended Miami University (M.S., Botany, 1978), and the University of Connecticut, Storrs (Ph.D., 1985). Jim was employed in the Harvard University herbarium (1976-1979), and as a botany professor at Miami University (1984-2014); he completed his tenure at Miami as Chair of the Botany Department. He was a world-renowned botanist and pteridologist, authoring many publications, especially on ferns. Jim was an exceptional teacher and was awarded both the Star Award by the MU Student Affairs Office (1991), and the Distinguished Educator Award, College of Arts and Science, Miami University (2009). Jim directed the research of many undergraduate students, several of whom went on to obtain Ph.D. degrees and are now teaching across the country. He also supervised the graduate degrees of 20 graduate students who have gone on to great careers of their own. Over the course of his career, Jim named 32 plants from across the globe, and had 5 plant species named for him. A colloquium commemorating his life's work was held at the Botany 2019 conference in Tucson, Arizona, at which many colleagues and friends made presentations. Jim was a man of passion. He was fiercely competitive and while he and Danette dated, they competed on dart leagues in Oxford and Cincinnati. This competitive spirit moved to corn hole tournaments with friends in Darrtown. Jim always felt fortunate that he was able to make a living doing what he was passionate about: teaching and botany. He was constantly thinking, and he loved challenging his students to think deeply as he strove to help them delve beyond the surface and gain true understanding of scientific concepts. He took great pride in being his version of "nurturing" and in his development of the KISS concept. Jim was funny, kind, loyal and he felt very deeply that family was everything. His family always teased him that he was a curmudgeon, but he felt that he had been blessed with a wonderful family and life and he died at peace. Special thanks go to Ashley Bell and Stacey Boss Keith for the wonderful hospice care Jim received; they were our Angels during these last 7 months. Memorial donations can be made to establish an outdoor plant learning lab at Marshall Elementary School. Checks can be made payable to Marshall PTG, 3260 Oxford-Millville Road, Oxford, OH 45056. Please put Hickey Learning Lab in the memo field. A drive thru Celebration of Life will be held on October 17, 2020, from 10 a.m. until noon at Hueston Woods State Park Beach Parking Lot.