George Alvan Ricker Jr.

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George Alvan Ricker Jr., 84 BUCKFIELD -- George Alvan Ricker Jr., 84, of Buckfield, died suddenly Oct. 31, 2009, at his home in Buckfield. He was born in Lewiston, and grew up in Poland Springs and Georgia at the family hotels. He was the great-grandson of Hiram Ricker the founder of Poland Spring Water and Hotel. He grew up on 'The Hill 'for elementary school. He then went to Kimball Union Academy and on to Tufts University where his studies were interrupted by service in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Upon discharge he went back to Tufts to finish his degree. After college he was a travelling salesman until he met his wife of over 40 years, whom he married on Aug. 16, 1958. Upon settling down, George became a special education teacher working first at Pineland then for the Westbrook School Department and finally the Oxford Hills School system. He was a fierce supporter of the rights of the mentally retarded. He was one of the founders of the Special Olympics in Maine and worked the kitchen to feed the many athletes and coaches. George served as Treasurer of the Consumer Advisory Board. He worked tirelessly as an advocate to provide services for individuals with mental retardation, from the closing of Pineland Center through the development of a comprehensive system of community based services. He helped with the start of the Progress Center in Norway, a place for older mentally handicapped people to work and integrate into the community. From running a summer camp in his backyard for Pineland Center residents to helping organize the first Maine Special Olympics, George and his wife, the late Rose P. Ricker, were tenacious in their efforts to make life as normal as possible for mentally retarded people. During his lifetime, George served on numerous boards including Maine Parents and Friends, Pineland Parents and Friends, and Maine Human Rights committees. George had strong feelings for his roots in Poland Spring as well. In 1975 after the great Poland Spring Hotel fire he helped to start the Poland Springs Preservation Society, serving first as treasurer and then as President until the present. His was a familiar face in the Maine State Building on the grounds of Poland Spring providing personal tours with his own narration of the history of the building. While growing up, he once was quarantined to the second and third floors of this building due to a bout of chicken pox so as not to infect the guests of the hotel. George enjoyed golfing, travelling with his family around the United States and the world, camping on islands in Casco Bay, and exploring the waters along the coast of Maine in his boat. George took great pride in the care of his lawn and pool, which was always open to visitors. He was a 54 year member of the American Legion and a 50 year member in the Freeport Masonic Lodge. He is survived by his son, John A. Ricker of Durham. He also leaves two granddaughters, Teresa Ricker and Jennifer Ricker of Durham. He was predeceased by his wife, Rose P. Ricker in 2005. A memorial celebration of his life will be held at the All Souls Chapel in Poland Spring on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 10 a.m. Arrangements by Andrews Funeral Home, High Street, Buckfield. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.andrewsgreenleaf.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to: The Poland Spring Preservation Society P.O. Box 444 Poland Spring, Maine 04274 or Maine Special Olympics 125 John Roberts Rd. Suite 19 South Portland, Maine 04106 George Alvan Ricker Jr.

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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Nov. 4, 2009
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