Richard Ek\nHorseheads, NY\nPassed away on December 7, 2021 at Bampa's House in Corning, surrounded by his devoted family at the age of 78. The wonderful staff and volunteers at Bampa's House provided care and support not only to Rick but to his entire family during his final days. \n\nOver the past seven years Rick's full and very active life became increasingly limited as he coped with the sequelae of brain cancer treatment. He faced each challenge with enormous courage, seldom complained, and was grateful for the support given by his family, loyal friends, and his devoted caregiver Pam Kuhn. \n\nRick cared very much for his immediate and extended families and he spent as much time as possible with them. He was pre-deceased by his parents Florence and Arthur Ek and his brother Kenneth Ek. He is survived by his wife Bette Ek; daughter Kirsten Ek and her husband Eric Palmquist and their daughters Anya, Marenn, Gretta, and Miriae Ek; son Derrick Ek and his wife Carmen; sister-in-law Barbara Ek; nephew Ron Ek, his wife Ginny and their children Steven and Viktoria Ek; and nephew Jim Ek, his wife Rhonda, their children Ryan and Elizabeth Ek, and Elizabeth's wife Shauna Ek. \n\nRick was born in Brockton, MA and graduated from Brockton High School before attending the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. It was there that he met Bette Jane Butler, who became his wife of 54 happy years. The couple remained in Amherst while both pursued graduate studies. After completing his PhD in psychology in 1970 Rick accepted a faculty position at Elmira College and the couple and their daughter Kirsten moved to Horseheads, NY. \n\nSix years later son Derrick arrived to share in the family's many activities, which typically included swimming and playing hockey on the pond, bonfires, sledding parties, cross-country skiing, hiking, kayaking and camping. \n\nRick loved anything which involved being outdoors. He was particularly devoted to two of his favorite pastimes: playing golf and running with his many good friends. Rick and his longtime running partner Dick DuBois were training for future marathons when they decided to set an ambitious goal of running every road in Chemung County. They estimated that they ran about 90% of them over the years. \n\nRick derived a great deal of satisfaction from his career of teaching and advising college students. He taught for six years at Elmira College before joining the faculty at Corning Community College, where he taught psychology courses. During his time at CCC he also spent several years as Director of Counseling and Career Services before returning to teaching. His retirement in 2003 and Bette's retirement shortly afterward gave the couple many years to pursue their interests, which included traveling and spending time with their lifelong friends. \n\nRick's life can be largely defined by his greatest passions: family, the natural world, and sharing his love of nature with his family. His parents introduced him to camping when he was 4 years old and began teaching him to love, understand, and respect all living creatures. In turn, he tried to instill these values in his children and grandchildren. His favorite message to them was "Always leave your campsite better than you found it!" \n\nRick was also committed to helping others enjoy the outdoors. He spent many hours helping to develop the Catherine Valley Trail (CVT) and he loved seeing families enjoy outdoor activities such as birding, running and biking on the CVT. He worked for several years planning and creating the legacy of which he was most proud: an extensive birding trail, now named the Ek Birding Trail, located at the southern end of the CVT in Mark Twain State Park. Youth groups, Audubon Society members, and many others contributed to this project. \n\nA celebration of Rick's life is planned for next summer. Those wishing to share memories and photos of Rick may do so on his memorial page at sullivansfuneralhome.com. \n\nThose who wish to support the continued development and maintenance of the Catherine Valley Trail and Ek Birding Trail may send donations in Rick's memory to Treasurer, Friends of the Catherine Valley Trail, P.O. Box 61, Watkins Glen, NY 14891.