Ranard Jackson Pickering

March 24, 1929October 29, 2018

Ranard Jackson Pickering

Ranard (Jack) Jackson Pickering, age 89, of Arlington, Virginia, passed away on October 29, 2018. He is survived by his three children- Pamela, of Whidbey Island, WA; Nancy, of Alexandria, VA; and Michael, presently of Arlington, VA; and by his sister, Carolyn Garman, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Joyce H., his wife of more than 50 years, passed away before him, in 2005.

Jack was born in Goshen, Indiana, the son of Carlyle W. Pickering and Bertha M. (Ranard) Pickering. Jack, continuing his early interest in science and nature, was an Eagle Scout also winning awards for his marksmanship. Having been raised a Hoosier he attended Indiana University at Bloomington, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree with Highest Honors (Suma Cum Laude) and a Master of Arts Degree, both in geology. While at the University. he proudly played in the marching Hoosiers, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity. Also, while at IU, he met, courted, pinned, and then married Joyce Holt. Their first daughter, Pamela, was born while Jack and Joyce were still attending IU and living in a one-room house on campus.

Jack worked as an exploration geologist for The New Jersey Zinc Company while they lived in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, where his second daughter, Nancy, was born. Next, they moved to Provo, Utah, where he worked for U.S. Steele, and his son Michael was born. Their next move was to Mountain View, California where Jack attended Stanford University and earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Geology. He remained for an additional year of research as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow.

Since 1961, Jack was employed as a hydrologist by the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey to work in various field offices, first in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where Jack worked in association with The Atomic Energy Commission. Their next move was to Columbus, Ohio, where the family stayed for a total of five years when Jack received a promotion. Their final move, in 1970, was to the Geological Survey’s National Headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area. There, he coordinated the transfer of water quality testing to each state’s EPA. Jack was Chief of the Quality of Water Branch from 1972 to 1984, and was then appointed to the newly created Office of Atmospheric Deposition Analysis (Acid Rain) in 1984.

As a civil servant, Jack was in the Senior Executive Service, and was a member of the Federal Executive Institute Alumni Association, and the Senior Executives Association. He received an Outstanding Service Award from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Meritorious Service Award of the Department of the Interior. He was author of numerous technical papers on geochemistry and water quality, a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, and he was also a member of the Geochemical Society, the American Water Resources Association, and the Society of the Sigma Xi. Jack retired from the Survey in 1994 after 33 years of dedicated service. Meanwhile, in his community he was a member of the Arlington Committee of 100, and in his church he was a Deacon, a hard-working member of the grounds committee, a tenor/bass in his choir, and the on-call connection for the organ tuner.

Growing up in the Pickering family home, music had been a big part of Jack’s life. Each child played multiple instruments, including the piano, trumpet, clarinet, saxophone, flute, violin, viola, cello, bassoon, string bass, bassoon, guitar, and mandolin. He sang in his church choirs and in college groups, and he was a 17-year member in the Alexandria Singers. In addition to his local Presbyterian Church choir, he also sang with The Encore Choral (age 55+) and Vocal Express (a paid group). His singing took him to many interesting venues, including: the Kennedy Center, the National Theatre, the National Building Museum, the National Harbor, and the Park Gazebo in Front Royal. In Old Town Alexandria, the venues included: the Lyceum, the Masonic Memorial Temple, Jones Park, the Old Church, and the old Presbyterian Meeting House. While in Russia with the Singers, they sang in a 16th century city square in St. Petersburg, at Catherine’s castle, and in Estonia. He always enjoyed dressing as an old-time Christmas caroler, when Vocal Express was hired to wander around singing in a few local malls and garden centers.

While still working at the Survey in 1966, Jack was invited to Vienna, Austria to present a paper at an international water quality conference. Joyce was able to go with him on that trip, and thus began many trips throughout the United States and to many countries around the world. Before either Joyce or Jack were retired, and after a few boat watching trips to San Francisco, they bought their own 27’ Bristol sailboat. The boat was docked just off the Chesapeake Bay, where they did most of their sailing- with Jack as Captain and Joyce as First Mate. The experiences they had on their boat were many and varied, and they loved them all- even the day a whole colony of honeybees swarmed the boat halfway across the Bay. For 25 years, almost every weekend was spent on the sailboat- that is, until the grandchildren were born. Then, being grandparents to Alexander and Benjamin, Michael’s boys, became their most important focus. Jack donated the sailboat to a sailing school shortly after Joyce passed away.


  • Memorial Ceremony Saturday, November 17, 2018

Ranard Jackson Pickering

have a memory or condolence to add?

Susanna P

November 13, 2018

I enjoyed digging through boxes of old family photographs with Jack. We were finishing years of work he had done on his family ancestry at the national archives. I enjoyed helping him transfer all of the family history into Ancestry online. It was fun to scan in pictures of his relatives and match names with faces of his past. Something I will always cherish were those times it was just the two of us.

Michael Pickering

November 12, 2018

Spending the last seventeen months at home serving my dad was my honor. Those will be memories that I will always cherish.