In Memoriam: Donald Ryder Dickey Jr. 1924-2015

Written by Katharine E. S. Donahue, Former Head, History and Special Collections for the Sciences
A LIBRARY FRIEND of long-standing has died. Donald Ryder Dickey Jr. passed away on the seventeenth of November, 2015. Don Jr. led a long and storied life: serving as an officer on an attack transport ship in the Pacific during World War II, acting as a game control officer in East Africa in the 1950s, and racing his Porsche Speedster #20 in the U.S. and Europe – for which he was recognized as a Porsche Legend.
He trained as a mining engineer at the Mackay School of Mines, then assisted his mother in the operation of the fabled Oriental Mine in California’s Sierra Nevada, eventually assuming all responsibility for the mine. In 1940 Don’s Jr.’s mother, Florence V. V. Dickey, donated Donald Ryder Dickey Sr.’s collection of more than sixty thousand bird and mammal specimens, a large photographic record of North American wildlife and habitats (including Southern California), and a library of approximately ten thousand books and journals to the UCLA Library and UCLA’s Division of Life Sciences.
From 1987 until Don’s Jr.’s death, he worked with the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library (the home of Don Sr.’s photographs, books, and field journals) to preserve the material and to ensure his father’s rightful legacy as a world-class pioneer in vertebrate zoology and photography in Southern California and beyond. Don Jr. funded the reformatting, preservation, and digitization of his father’s photographs and field notebooks to make them more accessible to students and scholars. Don Jr. and his wife, Hisae, also created the Donald and Hisae Dickey Jr. Endowed Fund to add rare and valuable books to the original library created by his father, the Donald Ryder Dickey Library of Vertebrate Zoology.
According to Russell Johnson, curator for History and Special Collections for the Sciences, “Don Dickey was the ultimate Library philanthropist because he donated additional photographs, field notes, and scrapbooks of his naturalist parents and grandmother – complementing the book collection that his mother gave decades earlier – and also recognized the importance of contributing funds to support processing, housing, and digitization. Don Jr. and Hisae even had the forethought to create an endowment so that the Library could continue to build upon his and his family’s collections, thus constantly renewing their legacy.” Donald Ryder Dickey Jr. was a longtime friend of the Library and will be greatly missed. Alongside Hisae Dickey, we look forward to continuing his work.