Rest In Peace, Kelby Hicks

Rest In Peace, Kelby Hicks

kelbyIt is with great sadness in my heart that I announce the passing of Kelby Hicks, 31, who was found dead on fieldwork at Colima volcano, Mexico earlier this week. He died of apparently natural causes, heart failure, and was discovered next to his instrument at his remote field camp on the volcano. Although his life was tragically cut short, we can say that Kelby died doing what he loved.

His passion for volcanology was contagious and only outweighed by his passion for living life. Kelby was the guy who knew how to handle anything that Mother Earth could throw at him. He had an adventurous spirit, a distinct talent for off-road driving, and as a white water river guide for seven years he never flipped his raft. Not even once. In his short life of only 31 years, Kelby accomplished more than most people do in 10 lifetimes. And, along the way, he touched the hearts of many people all over the world.

His work on Colima volcano in Mexico had just taken a turn for the better. After a string of bad luck with volcanic activity, dengue fever, and bad timing, Kelby had just become a part of a research team sent to Colima as part of a NERC urgency grant designed to assess the volcano’s recent awakening of activity. He was keeping us updated regularly through The Volcanofiles and his personal facebook page. Last week, Kelby posted the below photo to his Facebook page with the caption, “Colima volcano on my birthday!”


Kelby's last post on his facebook page before heading to his field site on Colima volcano.

Kelby’s last post on his facebook page before heading to his field site on Colima volcano.


Kelby was a man of many words and never failed to fill an awkward silence with a funny, outlandish story. He was adventurous, brave, kind, loving, and most of all passionate. Kelby is survived by his loving wife, Anna, his dog, Buddy, and the hundreds of people who he called friends. Kelby, dear brother, we love you and miss you. Although you’ve certainly left your mark, this world will never be the same without you.

Kelby Hicks: The most bad ass volcanologist this world has ever seen!

Kelby Hicks: The most bad ass volcanologist this world has ever seen!


If you wish to express your condolences or post memories/photos of Kelby Hicks, please feel free to do so in the comments section of this post and on the facebook page created for him by his wife:


Services in Memory of Kelby Hicks


Funeral for Kelby Hicks in West Virginia, USA

From the obituary published here:

On Saturday, April 27, Kelby’s family will be at the farm helping each other through this difficult time. Extended family and close friends are welcome to visit from 4-7 p.m.

For those who wish to stay on, at sunset, to celebrate Kelby’s life, there will be a private memorial at the pond from 7-10 p.m.

Gathering together his diverse and extensive friendship group was so important to him, and we know this is what he would have wanted.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Friends of the Cheat, 119 S. Price St., Suite 206, Kingwood, WV 26537.

In the near future, a scholarship will be established to fund promising geology students.

Arrangements are being handled by Field Funeral Home.




Cambridge Services for Kelby this Friday, April 26th at 1:30pm


View Larger Map A memorial service for Kelby Hicks will be held at the St. Edmund’s College Chapel in Cambridge at 1:30pm. All are welcome to attend. A memory book for Kelby is currently on his desk in his office and will be available for signing at the memorial service.

Services will be held at:

St Edmund’s College

Friday, April 26th, 1:30pm


Celebration of Kelby’s Life to be held in England

After the funeral in West Virginia, a celebration of Kelby’s wonderful life will be held in England, possibly at his home in Brandon. As details arise, we will update this page.


Flowers and Memory Book

Kelby’s wife Anna asks that all flowers are sent to the Geography Department to be displayed on Kelby’s desk. A memory book for people to sign is also located there, so please drop by or contact to get more details. If sending flowers by post, please send to:

University of Cambridge
Dept. of Geography
Attn: Kayla Iacovino
Downing Place
Cambridge CB2 3EN

25 thoughts on “Rest In Peace, Kelby Hicks

Mike HerrtagePosted on  1:59 pm - Apr 19, 2013

A tragic and untimely loss. It must be of some comfort that he was doing what he loved.

Our thoughts are with your wife and family.

John LoughlinPosted on  2:48 pm - Apr 19, 2013

I am very saddened by Kelby’s untimely passing away and I would like to offer his wife and family my sincerest condolences. I was his College Tutor and had to sign various documents giving him permission to go off on his field research including this one so I am especially sad. He struck me as a very intelligent and independent chap who loved his research deeply. We will miss him in College.

Ed VenzkePosted on  2:50 pm - Apr 19, 2013

Condolences from the staff of the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program.

tiffany lovePosted on  2:58 pm - Apr 19, 2013

I will always remember you as a childhood friend and class mate. you always had a smile. your time here was way too short. the world has defintley lost a wonderful person. all my prayers and thoughts to your wife and family.

Jennifer slavenskysPosted on  3:02 pm - Apr 19, 2013

Rip kelby. May The Lord be with Anna and your family

Annika HuizingaPosted on  3:15 pm - Apr 19, 2013

I hope you are in volcano-heaven now…
rest in peace Kelby Hicks

LexPosted on  8:03 pm - Apr 19, 2013

I remember Kelby, from the few times we had the chance to meet, as a deeply enthusiastic and passionate man, volcanologist and adventurer who would brave any set-back, hardship or obstacle with simply profound optimism and such a good spirit that it was difficult not to feel inspired or uplifted. I have long and often dwelt on the breadth of adventure and love-of-life encapsulated within the stories he had to tell. Colima was the opportunity not to be missed. Kelby, you will be missed.

Brandy ShafferPosted on  9:01 pm - Apr 19, 2013

Kelby, it saddens me to know that you are gone at such a young age. Knowing that you left behind a wife and friends…. but I know someday we will see you again. I wish that it hasn’t been since high school since we last spoke. RIP

Lee AvaryPosted on  12:13 am - Apr 20, 2013

Rest In Peace, Kelby.

You were one of a kind and lived life to its fullest. You were always ready to take on the next adventure with your indomitable spirit. Everyone’s life was richer for having known you.

MelissaPosted on  1:29 am - Apr 20, 2013

I just met Kelby one time at a Thanksgiving dinner here in Colima. A group of international people sitting together chatting it up…and he struck me as one of the most sincere, kind, energetic, interested in life person that I had met in a long time. I saw how important his studies were to him, and I was impressed by his dedication to the work. All I can say is that I am sorry for those who have lost an amazing friend…and to his wife who is surely suffering deep feelings of loss. My heart goes out to you all. It is always sad when a young gifted individual such as Kelby Hicks passes. Like others have already stated, the one blessing here is that he lived a full life which ended in a place he loved while working on what made him most alive.
Rest In Peace Kelby.

Chassie Hanlin SmithPosted on  4:11 am - Apr 20, 2013

I will always remember all the fun you brought to school. you was an all around great guy and very adventurous. you will be missed by all of those who were fortunate enough to get to know you. May your family find peace in this time is sadness. I’ll see you at the reunion in heaven.

Steven CleggPosted on  5:39 am - Apr 20, 2013

i was with Kelby in Hawaii when he was first ‘captured’ by volcanoes and where we both started our careers in volcanology…we shared our ideas, dreams, and passion for geology and outdoor life. I will miss his comical peculiarities, his passion for life and dedication to the things and people he loved. He was friend, partner, co-conspirator, and a brother. I am grateful for your presence and influence in my life Kelby.

Diane coxPosted on  1:27 pm - Apr 20, 2013

I watched you grow up as a child and even though I wasn’t as close to you as I young man, I wasn’t there as much, I knew all about you. You turned out to be quite the young man, so much like your father. My heart goes out to Anna, who I don’t know as well as I should, Ron (my brother ), Rochelle(my sister-in-law) and Courtlin(my niece ). You will be so sadly missed!!

sandra daltonPosted on  3:25 am - Apr 21, 2013

are prayers go out to kelbys wife and kelbys familyRon, Rochelle,’ cortlyn may god comfort you in your time of sorrow.

Virginia SmithPosted on  4:20 am - Apr 21, 2013

I didn’t know him, but I know the family, so sorry for your loss

Tehnuka IlankoPosted on  5:06 pm - Apr 21, 2013

Many thanks to all of you for sharing your memories and thoughts. The following message has been posted by Kelby’s family on the facebook page, and we will update any details here:

“For all our friends – Kelby will be laid to rest later this week. There will be a celebration of Kelby’s wonderful life at his favourite place – the pond at his home in West Virginia. Anyone, from anywhere is welcome and we will update you with details in a day or two.

For our friends in the UK, please know that there will be a celebration held at a later date.

Thank you so much to everyone who has posted and left such wonderful memories and photos xx Helen (on behalf of Anna)”

Girija GodbolePosted on  11:56 am - Apr 22, 2013

Last year Kelby did a session on volcanology for geography summer school that I was coordinating. The young high school kids from Singapore absolutely loved him! He was such a nice chap.

Rest in peace Kelby!

Conrad Jack GlassPosted on  12:34 pm - Apr 22, 2013

I did not have the pleasure of meeting Kelby–only spoke to him on the phone when he
called for Anna who was staying with my family while researching for her
He was easy to talk with, and had a pleasant voice. RIP Kelby you are in our prayers.

Mike FosterPosted on  5:18 pm - Apr 22, 2013

So very glad you were a friend to our son, and that we were thus privileged to know you in your even younger days. So very sad you are both now gone on. Prayers for you, your wife and all your family.

Patricia JohnsPosted on  6:38 pm - Apr 22, 2013

Kelby, Still wishing the news of your passing was a terrible dream. A vision of your sweet, happy, smiling face keeps coming to my mind. For reasons we are yet to know, you were taken early…in your prime, but it makes me glad to know you were doing one of the things you lived for. Rest In Peace love, you will NEVER be forgotten. God bless Anna and the entire Hicks family.

eric sinrsPosted on  10:08 pm - Apr 22, 2013

Kelby although its been since high school we have spoken u will hold a place in my heart.Im glad to hear you did go where no man had gone before.
R.I.P Kelby

David MatchenPosted on  7:11 pm - Apr 23, 2013

I still can’t believe this is real. R.I.P. Kelby – I figured that once he dodged that rock I rolled at him on North Fork Mountain that he was bulletproof.

Gayle “Scott” McCollochPosted on  1:35 am - Apr 24, 2013

As a geologist in my 60s I have had a chance to get around and gotten to know some of the outstanding earth scientists of both my generation and previous ones. One thread runs through all of the best. There is a spirit of the earth sciences characterized by an insatiable curiosity about the earth and a desire to pass on knowledge. Although he was taken at a very young age I consider Kelby among them.

His humor and friendship will be sorely missed!

Sharing the Volcano Love | sciencemimicsartPosted on  3:14 pm - Aug 9, 2013

[…] Colima and Yasur (in that order) and taken by Jonathan Stone and Anna and Kelby Hicks. If you want to know why there are no volcanoes in Norfolk look here. If you want to know more […]

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