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Rickards, of Duke Check, dies Wednesday afternoon

Ed Rickards died of renal failure Wednesday afternoon. He was 72.
Ed Rickards died of renal failure Wednesday afternoon. He was 72.

Ed Rickards, the author of Duke Check—a blog that comments on Duke's affairs and its administrators—died at 1 p.m. Wednesday due to renal failure. He was 72.

Rickards, Trinity '63 and Law '66, was more commonly known on campus among his sources and readers as Fact Checker. Starting off several years ago as a regular commenter on The Chronicle—where he once served as editor-in-chief—Rickards eventually created his own blog in August 2009 to comment on Duke affairs. Since then, Duke Check has grown in popularity with his posts running a wide array of topics, from Duke Kunshan University to the search for the new provost and even Duke football.

"He loved to write and loved to be controversial," said his younger brother Robert Rickards. "He loved to stir up a little trouble—that was him and that’s the way he lived his whole life. He was very argumentative and stuck by his guns. "

Although some consider the tone of Duke Check to be critical of the University, Rickards asserted, with a tagline at the top of his blog, that he is pro-Duke.

"We may have had our differences on issues, but I always admired, and never questioned, his lifelong passion and love for Duke," wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email Wednesday.

Schoenfeld, who Rickards frequently contacted, added that he was sad to hear the news.

"Mr. Rickards was a valuable resource who loved Duke, was deeply concerned about Duke's moral compass, about race and gender, corporatizing, administrative bloat and secrecy," Owen Flanagan, James B. Duke Professor of philosophy and professor of neurobiology, wrote in an email Wednesday.

After leaving Duke, Rickards worked at CBS, NBC, ABC and the Associated Press, and was later a part-time consultant. In addition to his love for writing, Rickards also loved to travel. His favorite trips were to San Diego, Cali. and Europe, his brother said.

Although he lived in New Jersey at the time of his death and had not made a trip to Duke in several years, Robert Rickards noted that Ed had a "passion for Duke." Before he passed away, Ed asked his brother if he could be transferred to Duke Hospital or could visit Durham when he was released.

Although Ed Rickards never got his final trip to Duke, his memory will live on through his "Loyal Readers."

"It’s a real loss for the University," said Thomas Pfau, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of English. "This blog came to draw a lot of attention and became much more important in making faculty and other stakeholders aware of issues concerning the University as a whole."

Ed Rickards is survived by his brother, sister-in-law and three nephews.


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