John K. Rickard, 86, of West Hartford, husband of Elsie J. (Crouso) Rickard, died Sunday, July 31, 2011 at Hartford Hospital after a long illness.
John, a first generation American, was born in Wynadotte, Michigan, a son of the late Mikolaj and Katarosyna “Kathern” (Swieski) Rykavsewski and served as a medic with the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Wayne State University and did post graduate work at the University of Michigan while working as a substitute teacher. He took a fulltime position as a teacher working in conjunction with the Department of Defense which brought him to the Philippines, Japan, and eventually Turkey, where he met Elsie, who was working in a similar position. The couple married in 1963 and worked and resided in France and England. The birth of their daughter, Jennifer Lynn established the need to set roots and return to the United States. In 1967, they bought their first and only house in West Hartford. John took a position as a social studies instructor with Conard High School and a few years later moved to the “new” Hall High School when it opened on North Main Street. He retired in 1991.
John was always learning and discovering something new. He had finished his Master’s degree at the University of Connecticut and continued taking classes. He was always an avid reader, and loved conversing on topics ranging from religion to politics. John was proud to give the initial presentation each fall at the Men’s Luncheon Group of the Unitarian Society of Hartford, where he was a longtime member. At 71, he decided to take up the clarinet and enjoyed playing with the Hartt School of Music Continuing Education’s New Horizon Band, as well as impromptu jam sessions with his son-in-law, Andy. John was active with the West Hartford Senior Center and a member of the West Hartford Education Association and the Teacher’s Retirement Association.
He leaves his beloved wife Elsie, his daughter Jennifer Lynn Rickard and her husband Andrew D. Axelrad and their daughter Victoria Kate Axelrad of Fairfax, VA; and his extended family in Michigan and Florida. His sister, Betty Lee Swieski, predeceased him when he was child.
A Memorial Service will be held Monday, August 15, 2011, 11:00 a.m. at the Unitarian Society of Hartford, 50 Bloomfield Avenue, Hartford. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Gail M. Syring to support her ministerial education or a charity of the donor’s choice. Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home, West Hartford has care of arrangements. For directions and online condolences, please visit www.taylorandmodeen.com .