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Rick C. Traw

August 29, 1952 — June 24, 2022

Rick C. Traw

Ricky Charles Traw (call him Rick, please) passed away on June 24, 2022, after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He is survived by his loving family, including wife Kim, daughter Emily, son Joe and his wife Kate. Survivors also include sisters Chris, Pam, and Deb and their families; numerous in-laws, nieces and nephews, friends, and his sweet, gentle cat Cordelia.
Rick was born on August 29, 1952 to Chuck and Gerry Traw in Des Moines, Iowa. He grew up a small-town Iowa boy in Humboldt, Iowa and graduated from Humboldt High School in 1970. There he developed a love for reading, writing, music, and football (especially the Hawkeyes). The family enjoyed regular fishing trips to Leech Lake in Minnesota, and this tradition stayed with him and his family throughout his life. Rick went on to attend college in Ottawa, Kansas, where he honed his skills playing Risk and writing songs (a few were gems, but he’d probably prefer most of these never to see the light of day). He graduated from Ottawa University in 1974. Rick loved the written word, and after graduating began teaching high school English at Leavenworth High School, including science-fiction and an oh-so-70’s-class called “The Singing Poets” about song lyrics. He met his wife, Kim, who also taught English at the same high school, and the two married on August 4, 1979.
The family moved to Ottawa, Kansas, where he was Assistant Principal at Ottawa High School – he always claimed this was the hardest job in education. He then took a job in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as the school district’s director of English and Language Arts. The family then moved to Cedar Falls, Iowa, when he started a position with the University of Northern Iowa. He was at UNI for 25 years as a professor, administrator, and co-director of the Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy.
Daughter Emily was born in 1983 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Son Joe was born in Ottawa, Kansas, in 1986. Rick taught his children to clap on the down-beat, that the real action in football happens on the offensive line, and that if you can catch your own fish you can darn well bait your own hook.
In 2017, Rick and Kim retired to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, where he enjoyed sitting on the deck watching the beautiful sunsets, going for long walks, boating, and playing bridge.
Rick was a philosopher, a poet, and a natural teacher. His life’s work was teaching teachers how to teach, helping children develop a love for reading, and empowering both children and adults to make their voices heard through the power of the written word. An earth-bound Yoda, Rick never worried about anything and doled out off-the-cuff wisdom. His motto was “Let go and let God,” and he personified the calm, wise strength of those words. His spirit lives on, and somewhere he and John Prine are sipping on vodkas with ginger ale, strumming their guitars, and laughing as they write clever song lyrics.
In his memory, we ask that anyone who is able and so inclined make gifts to one of two organizations:
● Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library - an organization that sends books free of charge to children up to 5 years old. (See below for link)
● Arkansas Hospice - This organization provided compassionate, competent care for Rick and his family. (See below for link)

Services will be private.

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