Dr. George Ricker

Obituary of Dr. George E. Ricker

A Celebration of Life Service for Dr. George E. Ricker, 94, will be Saturday, July 11, 2020 at 11:00 am, at First Baptist Church, Talladega with Pastor Robert Klotz and Rev. Jamie Baldwin officiating. Visitation at the church will be prior to the service from 10:00 - 11:00 am. Graveside service will be at Mount Carmel Cemetery in Bridgeport, AL at 3:30 pm. Social distancing guidelines will be observed and masks will be available. Dr. Ricker was born on April 26, 1926, near Fackler, AL and he went peacefully to be with the Lord on July 2, 2020 at his residence. He was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Iva Nelle Hurt Ricker and parents, Jonah and Margie Ricker. Also preceding him in death were Dr. George and Mrs. Bernice Nye, the doctor and nurse who delivered him, who became his foster parents when he was a teenager. His siblings who left this earth ahead of him were his sister, Mazie; twin brothers, Sammy and Sydney; and brother, Albert. He is survived by two sons, Stephen (Debbie) of Lexington, KY and David (Susan) of Cumming, GA, a sister-in-law, Boots Ricker, several nieces and nephews, and a host of friends. Dr. Ricker graduated from Jackson County High School in Scottsboro and served in the United States Navy for two years during World War II, stationed at Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho. He met Iva Nelle Hurt of Bridgeport at Howard College now Samford University. They were married in 1950, and that marriage lasted until, at the age of 91, Iva Nelle went to her heavenly reward. He received his degree from Howard College, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and received his doctorate from Samford University. Dr. and Mrs. Ricker were members of First Baptist Church, Talladega where they actively served in many capacities. Dr. Ricker accepted Jesus as his Savior at age twelve at Larkenville Baptist Church in Woodville. He attributed his commitment to the Lord to his Godly mother and much of his success to the Nyes. His formal ministry began when he was licensed into the ministry by First Baptist Church, Scottsboro, on August 10, 1947, where he was the mission pastor. He was subsequently ordained into the ministry by Friendship Baptist Church in Fackler on May 1, 1949, where he served as pastor. His ministry further included pastorates at First Baptist Church of Austinville, Decatur, Alabama and Padgett Baptist Church, Padgett, Texas. He served as the director of missions at the Tennessee River Baptist Association. He also served as a state missionary with the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions: 1955-1960, he was an associate in the Training Union Department and in 1960-1970, he was the director of the Associational Missions Department. In 1970, Dr. Ricker began his service as the first full-time director of Shocco Springs Baptist Assembly and Camps in Talladega (known now as Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center) until his retirement in 1989. During his tenure, he led in the development of two master plans that set the course for future development of the Shocco Springs ministry. He oversaw major renovations in several buildings and four major construction projects which provide modern accommodations and meeting space that are still the premier buildings on campus. He also helped in the establishment of Camp Happy Days, a no cost, annual camp at Shocco for underserved children in the foster system which is still active today. He influenced many lives of staffers and guests who were associated with Shocco. It was said that his back door was always open, and he was always ready to listen to staffers’ concerns and share prayer time with them. Many were influenced by his firm discipline and tender heart. Current Shocco staff describe the impact of his vast legacy as “immeasurable.” Some of these young people in whom he invested went into the ministry. To name a few, David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church, Tyler, TX, Bruce Chesser, pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN, Mark Milwee, pastor of Mount View Baptist Church, Trinity, AL, Jamie and Beth Baldwin, and Keith Hibbs. Jamie and Keith are both current Alabama Baptist state missionaries. Wendy Westerhouse, still serving at Shocco Springs, continued a close relationship with Dr. and Mrs. Ricker through the years. Each of these and many more were blessed under the leadership of Dr. and Mrs. Ricker. Since retirement in 1989, Dr. Ricker became quite proficient as a trip planner visiting many foreign and domestic destinations. He served interim pastorates in Alabama, Hawaii, Alaska, Germany, and a short-term mission assignment in Japan with the then Foreign Mission Board. He was active in the community and received a recognition from the Talladega Chamber of Commerce in 1993 for serving as co-chairman of a Multi-Racial Task Force. Some of Dr. Ricker’s other ministries included writing for the Baptist Sunday School Board and the Home Mission Board. In 1998, on the occasion of Shocco’s 50th anniversary, Dr. Ricker compiled and wrote The Shocco Springs Story. In this detailed account, Dr. Ricker’s love for the place, but more for the people, is evident. He wrote about the directors, staff, faculty, and the physical improvements to the campus. He also wrote about seeing God work in the lives of people on the Shocco campus, even before it was purchased by Baptists in 1947. Many people share Shocco stories about how God spoke to them there and it changed the direction of their lives. The City of Talladega proclaimed GEORGE RICKER DAY on January 23, 2009, because “he was instrumental in expanding the scope and inspirational influence of the encampment and assembly center, and for his personal efforts and selfless community service that made a positive and lasting impact on the economy and most importantly, the citizens of the City of Talladega.” In 2015, the Cheaha District of the Greater AL Council of Boy Scouts of America presented him with the Heart of an Eagle Award, for his lifetime achievements. When honored, he was always quick to say, “To God be the Glory”. In recent years, his final ministry was to his visitors and caregivers. He laughed, listened, reminisced with them, prayed with them about life’s challenges, and shared Christ through his actions and words. He will be sorely missed. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be sent to Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center, 1314 Shocco Springs Road, Talladega, AL 35160. A special thank you to all who served on Team George over the last several years, Southern Care New Beacon Hospice, and Home Advantage Living Assistance Services. Active Pallbearers will be Greg Graham, Jeff Graham, Tom Hall, Russell Klinner, Charles Montgomery, Jody Robbins, Andra Threatt, Larry Storey, and Buster Taylor. Honorary Pallbearers will be Terry King’s Sunday School Class and Team George loving caregivers: Jennifer Bragg, Cat Carey, Tammie Carey, Sid Gambrell, Mandy Harrison, Wendy Hubbard, Talisha King, Briggs Macon, Suzan Magouryk, Suzanne Moore, Cici Patterson, Mirium Thornton, LaShon Wallace, and Steve Yancey. Condolences may be offered online at www.usreyfuneralhome.com. Usrey Funeral Home, Talladega will direct the services.
Saturday
11
July

Visitation

10:00 am - 11:00 am
Saturday, July 11, 2020
First Baptist Church Talladega
North Street East
Talladega, Alabama, United States
Saturday
11
July

Funeral

11:00 am
Saturday, July 11, 2020
First Baptist Church Talladega
North Street East
Talladega, Alabama, United States
Saturday
11
July

Interment

3:30 pm
Saturday, July 11, 2020
Mt. Carmel Baptist Cemetery
Mt. Carmel Road
Bridgeport, Alabama, United States
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