DAYTON, OHIO – Seymour James Ryckman, better known as Jim, was the son of Seymour Willard and Laverne Jenkins Ryckman. He passed away peacefully at age 96 on Oct. 24, 2013. He was born June 20, 1917, in Allegan, Mich., and graduated salutatorian from Kalkaska High School in 1934.
He graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Missouri, and did his doctoral work at Harvard University. He became a professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Maine in 1940. Governor Edmund Muskie appointed Jim to help head the State of Maine Water Commission for environmental purposes. He served as a Lieutenant JG in the Navy during World War II on the Aircraft Carrier Kasaan Bay, CVE69, in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. After the war, he returned to the University of Maine faculty. He joined the University of Dayton Civil Engineering Department as Chairman in 1959 and was the longest running department head in the history of the University of Dayton. He received the distinguished Professor Emeritus Award from UD upon his retirement. During his career, he also served as an engineering consultant working throughout the United States and internationally.
Marie Louise Maguire Ryckman, his wife of 65 years, passed away in September 2008. Jim and Marie had four children and are survived by three sons and their wives and one daughter and her husband, Seymour James Ryckman Jr. and Diane, Gary Coleman Ryckman and Donna, Dr. Christopher Sheridan Ryckman and Therese, and Jane Ryckman Siegwarth and Mark. He is survived by 10 grandchildren, Abigail Ryckman and Jim Rittman, Rebecca Ryckman and Kevin Gellner, Meghan Ryckman and Wes Hershman, Melissa Ryckman and Dave Pawlowski, Dr. Audrey Ryckman and Matt Adkins, Hayley Ryckman, Judson Ryckman and Bonnie, Katherine Siegwarth, Kaitlin Ryckman, and Elizabeth Siegwarth Spencer; and three great-grandchildren, Jackson Rittman, Taylor Rittman, and Nate Spencer. He is also survived by his siblings, Willard Ryckman, Jean Woodhams, Virgil Utvuglt, and Clesson Ryckman. He was predeceased by his brother, Devere Ryckman; and granddaughter, Angel Loretta Ryckman.
Jim was raised on a dairy farm in northern Michigan and told great stories about plowing the fields with horses and hand cranking up the car in the winter. When asked what he did with his spare time as a child he answered, “What spare time? We just worked and went to school.” He credits his work with the machinery on the farm as a child to sparking his interest in civil engineering mechanics. He enjoyed golf, tennis, fishing and so forth, but loved the UD Flyers basketball games. He took every opportunity to educate others, and promised with his explanations that he would never exceed an hour because, as a professor, he was conditioned to the normal duration of his classes. Jim was a founding member of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society at the University of Dayton. He was a diplomat of American Academy of Environmental Engineers and a lifetime member of ASCE, AAEE, WPCF (WEF), AWWA and a long term member of Kiwanis International.
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at Schlientz & Moore Funeral Home, 1632 Wayne Ave., Dayton, Ohio. A Catholic Mass will be held 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Holy Angels Church, 1322 Brown St., Dayton, Ohio, with burial immediately following at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, 118 Woodland Ave., Dayton, Ohio. A reception will follow for family and friends at the Engineers Club of Dayton, 110 E. Monument Ave., Dayton, Ohio. Donations may be made in his name, Professor S. James Ryckman, to the University of Dayton, Civil Engineering Dept., College of Engineering, 300 College Park, Dayton, Ohio, 45469-7051.