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Alta Merle Ricks Papers

Identifier: M454


Alta Merle Ricks (1905-2005) was a benefactress for the Ricks School of Gifted Children.Her generosity supported the Ricks Center building project and an endowment fund. She was a regular visitor to the school and attended many events. This collection contains items collected and created by Ricks, unconnected to the school, including family photographs, personal paintings, and various trophies and awards.


  • 1882-2005


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright not evaluated: The copyright and related rights status of this Item has not been evaluated. Please refer to the organization that has made the Item available for more information. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. See:

Biographical / Historical

Alta Merle Ricks, the major benefactress of the Ricks Center for Gifted Children at the University of Denver, died Tuesday, November 8, 2005 at her home in Denver. She was 100. Mrs. Ricks was born January 6, 1905 in Oklahoma to Argyll and Ethel McMahan. She attended the University of Oklahoma. In November 1927, she married oilman Francis Maurice "Cappy" Ricks in Oklahoma City. She gave birth to their son Jerry in 1932. The couple moved to Denver in 1952, and Ricks became involved with the Petroleum Club, and the Cherry Hills Country Club. She was also a dancer, an avid golfer, and an accomplished artist. In 1986, she founded the Cappy Ricks Fund in memory of her late husband. The fund provides financial assistance to help relieve the financial burdens of aged, infirmed, or incapacitated members of the Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen. Mrs. Ricks was introduced to then University of Denver Chancellor Dan Ritchie by DU Law School alumnus William Collister. At the time, Ritchie and Norma Lu Hafenstein, the founder of the University Center for Gifted Young Children, were raising funds for a new building to house school. Ricks' son was killed in a bicycle-car accident when he was eight years old, and the young students reminded her of him. Mrs. Ricks was the major benefactress to the building campaign, and the school was re-named in her honor when the building opened in 1991. Her generosity supported the Ricks Center building project and an endowment fund. She was a regular visitor to the school and attended many events. –Information obtained from the obituary at


28.25 Linear Feet (3 record boxes, 5 flat boxes, 1 card file box, 1 custom box)

Scope and Contents

This collection contains various photographs of the Ricks' family, Alta's watercolor paintings in frames, and various trophies won by her and/or her family members. This collection includes some items belonging to Ricks and her husband, and among these are a service medal and a basket of personal items.


This collection is separated into four (4) series: 1) Photographs, 2) Paintings, 3) Trophies, and 4) Memorabilia.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Repository

2150 East Evans Avenue
Denver CO 80208
(303) 871-3428