Angelo State University’s College of Arts and Humanities has received a grant from an anonymous donor to fund the formation of a new George Ricks Memorial World War II Archive that will be housed in the ASU West Texas Collection.
Donated through the San Angelo Area Foundation (SAAF), the initial grant of $50,000 is part of a $250,000 commitment to provide for this memorial archive project.
“It’s important that we record the history of our country’s ‘greatest generation,’ and this World War II archive will be a tremendous resource for future generations of students, historians and the public,” said Matt Lewis, SAAF president and CEO. “This whole process has been a wonderful example of how public and private entities like ASU and the SAAF can work together on a project that benefits everyone involved. We are thankful for our wonderful anonymous donor who has made this endowment possible.”
ASU President Brian J. May said, “We truly appreciate the generosity of our anonymous donor and the partnership with the SAAF. I look forward to watching the archive project as it unfolds, and to seeing how it illuminates that important period in our history. It will be an impressive addition to our West Texas Collection.”
Facilitated through the ASU Department of History, the project will be led by Dr. Christine Lamberson of the history faculty and Dr. Leslie Rodriguez of the communication faculty. Under their direction, students from all the academic departments within the College of Arts and Humanities will collect the items that will make up the memorial archive, including:
- Oral histories of World War II veterans and their families
- Photos and documents
- Artifacts and other memorabilia
As work on the archive progresses, periodic exhibits are planned for the West Texas Collection and in the new ASU Mayer Museum that is currently under construction.
“This project will allow faculty and staff in the College of Arts and Humanities to do collaborative research while providing students critical training to develop their marketable skills,” said Dr. John Klingemann, dean of the college. “As a historian, I am thrilled at the prospect of recovering the oral histories and material items of an important group from our country’s past that will afford future researchers and archive visitors the means to learn about our ‘greatest generation.’ We have been provided a wonderful gift that will enhance the educational experience of our students at ASU.”
The archive is named for World War II veteran George Wesley Ricks, who passed away in San Angelo earlier this year at the age of 97. A native of Abbott, Ark., Ricks served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater during World War II. Members of his company were some of the first troops that liberated the Dachau concentration camp just 10 miles from Munich in southern Germany.
Following his military service, Ricks married and moved to San Angelo, where he was the longtime business owner of Ricks Phillips 66 until retiring in 1985. He was also a founding member and first president of the North Angelo Lions Club, a member of the San Angelo Police Academy Board, and a deacon at Lake View Baptist Church and Edmund Boulevard Baptist Church. He is survived by six daughters, a step-daughter, and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.