DANVILLE, Va. Local historian and artist Robert Daniel "Danny" Ricketts, 79, of Danville, died on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, at Centra Lynchburg General Hospital after a sudden illness. Born January 13, 1941, in a log cabin in Blairs, Virginia, Danny was the son of the late Ruben Edward and Annie Marie Jones Ricketts. Danny was also predeceased by one brother Ray E. (Mary) Ricketts of Richmond; three sisters, Idella (James, living) Lynch of Danville, Marion (Willie) Lewis (Herman) Cook, and Elaine (Edward) Gibson; and a grandson, Cody Austin Hill. Danny's family moved to Washington Street when he was five years old. On March 29, 1968, Danny married his first (and only) wife, Nancye Barbour Ricketts, after wooing her with a series of ancient arrowhead hunting dates. Together, they raised three children, one daughter, Jo Ricketts (Kevin) Hawke of Danville; and two sons, Robert Allen "Bobby" (Kimberly) Ricketts of Forest, Va., and Paul Daniel (Rebecca) Ricketts of Broken Arrow, Okla. He is survived by six grandsons, Joseph Robert (Erica) Ricketts of Lynchburg, Va.; Ryan Andrew Hill of Danville; Caleb Daniel Ricketts and Samuel James Ricketts, both of Broken Arrow, Okla.; and Lucas Sebastian Dalton and Atticus Sage Hawke, both of Danville. Also surviving are several generations of nieces and nephews and a multitude of cousins. Danny graduated from George Washington High School in 1960. He joined the U. S. Air Force in January 1961 and served in Intelligence as a Radio Intercept Analyst Specialist in Karamursel, Turkey, where he became fascinated by ancient and early cultures of western civilization. After serving his country, Danny studied at Danville Community College and became a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service, delivering mail, enjoying conversation, and running from dogs until he retired in 1992. Danny was an avid historian and collector of ancient artifacts and local memorabilia alike. He and son Bobby unearthed the oldest surviving wooden water wheel in America, the Beavers Mill water wheel (circa 1792) in Pittsylvania County in 2003. It was excavated, preserved, and donated to the Virginia Historical Society for display in the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in 2006. With the assistance of his niece Sylvia Matthews, Danny was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution History Award medal and Historic Preservation medal, as well as the Arkansas Traveler appointment by then-governor Mike Huckabee. Danny started painting as a child. His art teachersMrs. Vass in fourth grade at Stonewall Jackson Elementary and later Miss Lucille Walton at George Washington High Schoolencouraged his talent. Danny won two Scholastic Gold Key awards for his artwork. For the next 50 years, his art was primarily focused on his historical work, producing dozens of posters on local history and more. Then, in 2011, he once again immersed himself fully in his art. Danny's artistic hero was Pablo Picasso, but over the course of his lifetime, he produced more than 1,300 pieces spanning multiple styles and modes, including abstracts, landscapes, collage, and sculpture. In 1996, Danny and Nancye moved to Tulsa, Okla., where they attended Rhema Bible Training College, graduating in 1998. They traveled with mission teams to India twice and pastored Victory Family Church in Danville for several years. Danny's favorite Bible verse was, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." He said that this verse was posted over the door of his Sunday School class at Third Avenue Congregational Church, where he and his family were members for many years. Striving to live this message out every day of his life, Danny Ricketts' testimony will continue to live on in his historical work, his art, and his family and friends for countless years to come. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 4, 2020, at Norris Funeral Services' Mt. Hermon Chapel with the Rev. Oscar Rivera officiating. A visitation will be held an hour prior to the service. The family will also receive guests at the residence at other times. Interment will follow the funeral at Highland Burial Park. Memorial donations may be made to God's Pit Crew Crisis Response Team.
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