Cover photo for Rolf Hickman's Obituary
Rolf Hickman Profile Photo

Rolf Hickman

d. November 24, 2023

Rolf Hickman (Professor Emeritus )

Rolf Hickman died November 24, 2023, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He was born in Pittsburgh and was preceded in death by two sisters and his wife of fifty-three years, Helen Carew Hickman, a noted ecclesiastical designer. He is survived by a niece, five nephews and their spouses.

His early years were anything but typical. Intrigued by live theatre at Chataqua, he set his sights on a stage career. He was in all school, church, and community play productions in the Park Ridge, IL area. Before he was 10, his Saturdays were spent at NBC radio in Chicago competing for speaking parts with adults and was featured in Art Linkletter’s

House Party.

Later when the family moved to New York City, he won a place on the award-winning children’s programs,

Let’s Pretend


The Lady Next-door

, and

Coast to Coast on a Bus

with Milton Cross cast as the bus driver. After the family moved to Pittsburgh, he continued working professionally in radio and was the youngest member of the American Federation of Radio Artists. At the Pittsburgh Playhouse, he played the young lover of Julie Haydon, of

The Glass Menagerie

fame. His acting career culminated during his senior year in high school with a play chosen for Rolf, the

Velvet Glove

, by a director. Due to debilitating arthritis, he was unable to continue his promising theatrical career and refocused his energy into other ambitions.

His education spanned a Chicago suburb, PS# 98 in New York City, high school in a Pittsburgh suburb


the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, the University of Arizona at Tucson, Ozenfant School of Fine Arts in New York City, University of Pittsburgh, Syracuse University and the Pennsylvania State University.

In Pittsburgh, he taught Art at Arsenal Junior High School and Carrick High School, Ceramics at Adult Evening School, Painting at the Arts and Crafts Center, and was Critic-Teacher for Carnegie Mellon University.

Rolf was vice-president of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh, on the Board of the Pittsburgh Plan for Art, National Committee on Art Education, and presenter at the Museum of Modern Art.

For 35 years, he was a Professor of Art and Art Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he served as Department Chair in the School of Fine Arts. During a Leave-of-Absence, he joined the staff of the Milwaukee Art Center as Supervisor of Education, training the Docents and producing a season of Public TV programs.

McGraw-Hill published his semester’s lectures synchronized with his eight hundred slides, geared to elementary classroom teachers.

The University of Wisconsin Press published his lecture dealing with prejudice perpetuated by toys in the United States from 1865 to 1940.

Honors & awards included: two Henry C. Frick Scholarships, four Penn State Graduate School Awards, a Ford Foundation Grant from the American Society of Educational Broadcasters, a Wisconsin Art Education Association Award, one of fifty Defense Education Awards, a Carnegie Corporation Grant, a Washington Art Education Association Present’s Special Award for Leadership and Dedication to the Visual Arts, and a Morris Fromkin Memorial Lecture and Research Grant. Upon retirement the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents awarded him Emeritus Professor status. After retirement, Rolf was appointed Visiting Scholar at the Winterthur Museum.

There will be no memorial service. The interment will be with Helen in the Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh. PA.
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