August 8, 1951 - March 8, 2021
W. Richard Janikowski, beloved husband of Phyllis Betts, died unexpectedly at their home in Gap Creek, outside Asheville, NC, on March 8, 2021. Phyllis found him unresponsive in his reading chair, after he had worked outside on a warm spring day. Reading and working outside were two of his favorite things. Richard was a widely known and well-respected criminologist based at the University of Memphis, where he built a twenty-six-year career that left an enduring imprint on the University and on the City of Memphis. Working closely with law enforcement agencies and community organizations, he pioneered data-driven community safety strategies that linked research with community action and introduced students to field-based learning beyond the classroom. Richard was born on August 8, 1951, in London, England, to Anna Biernacka Janikowski and Waclaw Janikowski. His parents were critical participants in the Polish Resistance Army during WWII. His mother was in medical school when she joined the Resistance, and his father was a civil engineer in the professional military. They joined forces with the British Army in Italy and ultimately emigrated to England. From there they emigrated to Chicago and Oak Park, Illinois, in 1956, where the public schools put Richard in speech therapy to eradicate his British accent. Richard was proud of his Polish heritage, could still speak the language, and was in the process of claiming his Polish citizenship. Richard's first name was Waclaw, after his father. Richard earned his BA in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago and his JD from De Paul University. He began his legal career practicing securities law in a well-established Chicago firm. He eventually formed his own firm, Kotell, Janikowski, and Light, where cases became more diverse, and he developed his interest in criminal law. Seeking a change of environment, Richard made his way to Asheville in 1985 to join the firm of attorney Marvin Pope, then in private practice before he became a judge. When Richard was seeking an expert witness for a case, he connected with the Department of Sociology at the University of North Carolina Asheville, where he met Phyllis, then an Associate Professor of Sociology and founding Director of the newly established University Honors Program. The relationship with Phyllis and the University fueled his interest in research, teaching, and an academic career. He eventually taught law-related courses for the Departments of Sociology and Political Science and was tapped by Cecil’s College (now South College) to develop and implement their Paralegal Studies degree. Richard and Phyllis married in 1987. By 1990 they had both taken positions at the University of Memphis, where Richard would chair the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. They remained there until their retirement in 2013. When they moved away from Asheville in 1990, they said they would return. Richard always said to his strong network of colleagues and friends in Memphis, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” When Richard first arrived at the University of Memphis, he taught typical academic courses such as criminal law and the more esoteric “Law and Semiotics.” When the department was approached by Bob Bryden, Director of the newly formed Memphis Shelby Crime Commission and the US Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Veronica Coleman, in the late 1990’s, a new era for criminology at the University of Memphis began. Faculty and students helped solve real-world problems by linking community-based action with field research and data analysis. Richard founded the Center for Community Criminology and Research, known as C3R. Phyllis, then a faculty member of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, collaborated with him through the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA) that she started. Richard’s first project was the US Department of Justice’s Strategic Initiatives for Community Safety, followed by other DOJ initiatives such as Project Safe Neighborhoods, the Drug Market Initiative, and the Community-Oriented Policing initiative. He developed a long and productive partnership with the Memphis Police Department’s efforts at data-driven policing, including the development of the Blue CRUSH (Crime Reduction through Using Statistical History) and the establishment of the Real Time Crime Center. During the roll-out of Blue CRUSH Richard and then Deputy Director Dewey Betts (no relation to Phyllis) met in the neighborhoods with over 100 community groups, an early effort to engage the community and move toward community policing, where neighborhood residents and other stakeholders have a say in how best to pursue community safety. During his time in Memphis, Richard received the University’s Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award (which he and Phyllis were recognized for simultaneously for their joint work) and the W. Russell Smith Award for Teaching Excellence. He was included in the “Who’s Who in Memphis” editions of Memphis: The City Magazine and recognized by the Memphis Commercial Appeal in 2010 as one of the 10 Most Influential People in Memphis during the decade. When they retired, Richard and Phyllis were awarded the Key to the City by then Mayor AC Wharton. Richard was a member of and active in the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the American Society of Criminology, and the Southern Criminal Justice Association. He continued to consult with the Memphis Police Department until the day he died. The Memphis Commercial Appeal published a special tribute to Richard in its March 25, 2021, print edition and online: https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/local/2021/03/24/richard-janikowski-father-memphis-blue-crush-model-policing-dies-age-69/6966107002/ Richard and Phyllis returned to Asheville in 2013 but maintained their ties to the worlds of community safety and community development and with Memphis through their consulting firm Strategic City Solutions. They re-established their relationship with the University of North Carolina Asheville. They endured the pandemic together and did not mind being together at home with their feline companions Kismet, Thompson, and Patches. They were looking forward to their second vaccinations, which Phyllis got four days after Richard died because she knows he would have wanted that. They lived, loved, laughed, played, and worked together for 33 years of marriage, including seven years of retirement. They called home a restored farmhouse on two acres and were in the midst of ongoing outdoor projects to create a special environment for friends and family visiting from Illinois. They enjoyed the frogs in their pond and listening to the waterfall and sitting around the fire pit where Richard excelled as a fire builder. They fed the birds, especially the hummingbirds, and enjoyed rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, deer, foxes, and the occasional bear. The rabbits and groundhogs enjoyed their vegetable garden, so Richard designed and built a functional but beautiful garden enclosure. They joined a dinner club and enjoyed entertaining inside or outside in the outdoor kitchen and dining pavilion. Richard built three of four planned levels of an outdoor terrace connecting the various outdoor spaces. Phyllis will have it completed and dedicated to his memory. “And one day you will look back and be comforted to know that you have survived, and thrived, and that he was with you all the way.” Wisdom from a friend. Besides his wife Phyllis, Richard is survived by brother Andrew (Drew) Janikowski and wife Sue Greffen, of Villa Park, Illinois, and two cousins, Dr. Anna-Barbara Moscicki of Los Angeles and Dr. Richard Moscicki and wife Marianne of Boston, and their families. Other family remains in Poland and in Sweden. He is also survived by father-in-law John Betts and family friend Linda Cisco, sister-in-law Cheryl Betts Wall (husband Ted), and nieces Krista Mohns Donnelly (husband Chad), Susan Kinney (husband Dan), Amy Sullivan, and Haylie Mohns, as well as eight other great nieces and nephews, all of Illinois. And of course, his beloved cats. A Celebration of Richard’s Life will be hosted by Phyllis, family, and friends on the UNCA campus in August or September, when we hope to gather less restrictively. Richard’s Department is planning something later in the spring on the U of M Campus. Check back with the Morris Funeral Home tribute site as plans are finalized or to leave tributes and memories of Richard, which have been a comfort to Phyllis and family. Morris also has contact information for Phyllis. Memorial tributes in Richard’s name may be made to the Phyllis Betts-W. Richard Janikowski Honors Program Fund through the UNCA Foundation (checks payable to UNC Asheville Foundation, Inc. CPO #3800 1 University Heights Asheville, NC 28804-8507 with notation clearly designated for memorial gift to the Honors Fund, or on-line select “other” and write in the Fund at http://giving.unca.edu/ ); the tribute contribution page of the Asheville Humane Society at www.ashvillehumane.org; the Manna Food Bank in Asheville to designate at https://donate.mannafoodbank.org/; the Memphis Shelby County Law Enforcement Foundation www.msclefoundation.org for designated gifts to the outstanding Police Awards Ceremony or Memorial for Fallen Officers; or the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice W. Richard Janikowski Academic Enrichment Fund, made out to the University of Memphis Foundation but clearly designated for the Janikowski fund, and sent to Dept 238, U of M Foundation, PO Box 1000, Memphis, TN 38148-0001. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Highsmith Student Union University of North Carolina Asheville at 2:00 PM on Sunday, October 3, 2021. The family will receive friends thirty minutes prior to the service. Please RSVP by Wednesday, September 22, 2021.
W. Richard Janikowski, beloved husband of Phyllis Betts, died unexpectedly at their home in Gap Creek, outside Asheville, NC, on March 8, 2021. Phyllis found him unresponsive in his reading chair, after he had worked outside on a warm spring... View Obituary & Service Information
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