The Rickard Family and Burma

Photo: Sam '23 and Ada '21 Rickard, with their sons, Sam '49 and John '50.

Burmese students have come to Bucknell for 150 years, but American Bucknellians, too, have a long tradition of living in Burma. For one family, the connection spans generations. Since 1924, nine Bucknell alumni — all members of the Rickard family — have lived in Burma for an extended period of time.

Sam ’23 and Ada Thomas Rickard ’21 traveled to Burma as Baptist missionaries soon after their graduation from Bucknell. As English teachers at Judson College (a small Christian college that was part of the University of Rangoon), they originally planned to spend one or two years in Burma. Instead, they stayed on for most of the next 18 years, Sam teaching and Ada raising four sons — Sam ’49, John ’50, Donald ’51, and David ’57. Sam and Ada corresponded with friends at Bucknell, keeping them informed about life in Burma.

Air raids on Rangoon in 1942 forced the Rickards to flee to India on foot, but the family’s ties to Burma remained strong. After all four sons attended Bucknell, three of them — Sam, Donald, and John — spent time living in Burma (Donald with his wife, Elaine Grove Rickard ’50, and John with his wife, Marjorie Lawler Rickard ’51). John and Marjorie’s son, John ’75, has also lived in Burma. He is now an English professor at Bucknell.
The Rickard family continues to have a strong interest in and concern for Burma. John ’50 and Marjorie are transcribing Ada’s diary of the family’s escape to India. “She kept a daily ledger of the tiger tracks around camp and the shortage of food,” says John. “We were always careful about who was ahead on the road. One day, we saw someone pop in and out of the jungle. It turned out to be one of my father’s former students, who, when he recognized us, gave us eggs and rice for our trip.”