NORTH NORWICH — Ralph Richard "Rick" Elam, 68, of North Norwich died on Jan. 18, 2013, at home with his wife, Susan by his side.
He was born and raised in Camden, N.J., the oldest of two sons born to the late Hazel (Frye) Elam Maxwell and Ralph Monroe Elam. Rick lived in the Norwich area since 2001, after he was hired by Broome Developmental Services, Chenango Regional Center as a psychologist. He retired from NYSOPWDD as a Psychologist II in Feb., 2012. He was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, an aggressive skin cancer, in April, 2012. He received treatment locally and at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
He is survived by his wife, Susan Kowsky; his children, Meegan (Steve) Elam Wood of Plattsburgh, N.Y., Ethan Z. (Pauline) Elam of Seattle, Wash; his brother Ken Elam and sister-in-law Shannon who live and work in Seattle, Wash.; Grandchildren Kya and Braedan of Plattsburgh and Gavin and Hudson of Seattle. Also surviving is Meegan and Ethan's mother, Peggy Cameron of Plattsburgh; Step children Matthew and Mariesa Coppola of Saratoga Springs; nieces Fiona (Jeff) Yates of Seattle and their children Elle and Bryne, and Claire (John Urdal) Elam and their children Carter and Mason. Also surviving are brother and sister-in- laws Carm and Charles Kowsky of Williamsport, Pa. and their children Christina (Dave) Bebe and Cassandra (Mike) McKeon; brother and sister-in-law Kathy and J. Alan Kowsky of Halfmoon, N.Y. and their children Amanda (Leonard) Billings and Alicia Kowsky.
Rick graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. in 1966, majoring in Psychology. He earned his doctorate in Psychology from the University of Maine in Orono, Maine in 1973 after doing an internship in Hawaii. He loved working with the developmentally disabled and was always encouraging people to be all that they could be. Rick was also a volunteer dispute resolution counselor for The Chenango, Delaware, Otsego Dispute Resolution Center, and was recently honored for 10 years of service. He also loved all kinds of music, wrote some music, and was an enthusiastic member of the Norwich Theatre Company. Rick was an advocate for Art, Music and Sports to be part of the public school curriculum, and he supported groups with those interests. Rick was a youth wrestler who became interested in running in college. He loved to run and he did so almost every day. Rick participated in a marathon every decade of his life. He ran the Boston Marathon, Schroon Lake Marathon, NYC Marathon, The Empire State Building Run, one 50 mile run, and the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, N.Y. in 2008 (his last), just to name a few. Rick was also an avid reader of mystery thrillers. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
A special thank you to the staff at Bassett Health Care, Chenango Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. Also, thank you to CNA Amber Whetham and Jenny Simmons who were always available to help. Memorial contributions are encouraged to be made on Rick's behalf to: Hospice and Palliative Care of Chenango County, 21 Hayes Street, Norwich, NY 13815. As per his wishes, Rick was cremated. There will be a Celebration of Life memorial service in April, 2013. Arrangements are with Behe Funeral Home, Oxford, NY. Memories and condolences may be shared by visiting www.behefuenralhome.com