September 25, 2023

Death of Retired Faculty Member Lewis Fickett

A message from the College of Arts and Sciences:

I am sorry to tell you that Dr. Lewis Fickett, Jr., Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science, died last night after a long illness. Lew joined the faculty in 1963 and taught at Mary Washington College for 38 years prior to his retirement in 1996. He received his A.B. from Bowdoin College, summa cum laude, and L.L.B., M.P.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard. In 1995, Mary Washington bestowed on him the Grellet Simpson Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Lew Fickett had a rich and meaningful career within and beyond academia. A World War II veteran, he served in the foreign service and as a lawyer before arriving at Mary Washington. He was the author of three books and numerous articles related to his scholarly focus on Indian politics, including his 1963 monograph, The Major Socialist Parties of India. Throughout his career he was deeply involved in Virginia politics. He served for eight years as a progressive, Democratic member of the House of Delegates where one of his proudest achievements was seeing to it that public school students have free textbooks. He also promoted worker safety throughout the state. Within the college community he revived a dormant Debate Club which he coached to awards at state and regional tournaments. He also served as chair of Political Science and International Affairs.

As one of his colleagues, Stephen Farnsworth, remarked, “Lew Fickett was an exceptional teacher. There was no better person to mentor many hundreds of students through constitutional law. Many lawyers with Mary Washington undergraduate degrees started building their expertise in his class after he got them excited about the law.”  There is an award, established in his name, for outstanding achievement in international affairs.

Dr. Fickett is survived by his children and his wife of 47 years, Martha, who retired from the UMW Music Department faculty in 2014. Information on funeral services will be forthcoming in the Free Lance-Star.


Richard Finkelstein
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
University of Mary Washington