Rodger Scott Rickard
Aug. 26, 1932-Feb. 8, 2023
Rodger Scott Rickard was one of a kind. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 26, 1932, he wore many hats throughout his life. He proudly wore a naval aviator hat in Pensacola, Florida in the early ‘50s and a graduation cap at Springfield College in the late ‘50s but, in the end, it was his coaching hat that he talked about the most, whether it was sports, young entrepreneurs or non-profit corporations.
Rodger had two loving mothers, Florence Rickard and her sister Hazel. Hay, as she was known, took over the care of Rodger when he was 2 as Florence was hospitalized with tuberculosis. Hay, her husband Elmer “E.L.” Groth and their son John, welcomed Rodger into their home and raised him as their own.
One of Rodger’s earliest memories was having to stay in at recess to eat graham crackers and drink milk, as his teachers felt he was too skinny and frail to play with his peers outdoors. He devoted the rest of his life to getting out and playing hard, whether it was on the golf course, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro for his 65th birthday or in the board room - for Rodg there was no line between work and play.
Drive is the word that comes to mind when reflecting on Rodger. First, because he was a lifelong car fanatic with a particular affinity for convertibles, he loved golfing and felt nothing was more satisfying than smacking a long drive down the fairway, and because of his determination and desire to accomplish great things - and he did. He took a sabbatical from his first job as a coach and a teacher at Hawken School in Ohio in 1968 to study at Stanford. He was motivated to choose Stanford because he wanted to come to sunny California and because it had a golf course. The sabbatical study turned into a pursuit of a second MA and a Doctorate in Education. Along the way he coached basketball and tennis at Stanford, always hoping to get a job helping with the soccer team, as he played on the US National team in the ‘50’s. He was a founder of what was to become the University of Phoenix (first known as the Institute for Professional Development in San Jose) but was reluctant to leave California and changed his career path to real estate. He was a successful salesman from day one, but set his sights on owning the company, which he did, and upon selling it in 1997, went on to establish the American Basketball League, a professional women’s basketball league which was the precursor to the WNBA. He helped launch the non-profit, the Positive Coaching Alliance, his final hooray was developing a practice basketball hoop which he patented when he was in his eighties. Although he lived out the majority of his adult life in California, he was a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan.
In the sports vernacular, that he loved so well, he was a long ball hitter. Perhaps Rodger’s greatest accomplishments were the four home runs he hit when he fathered his son Jon Rickard (wife Dana, children Michael, Jo Marie and Gerrod), his daughters Jenny and JoAnna Rickard and son, Jake Rickard. Along with his children and grandchildren, he is survived by his wife of 42 years, Diane Talbert and his cousin/brother John Groth. It was a long slide into home base but you’re safe Rodg - rest in peace.
Tags: veteran, teacher/educator, business, sports