Donald Charles Jicha passed away peacefully in the presence of family on May 28, 2023, in Chapel Hill, NC. He was 89 years old.
Dr. Jicha was born on July 21, 1933 in Cook County, Illinois, to Charles and Charlotte Jicha. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1955 and received his doctorate in inorganic chemistry from The Ohio State University in 1960. That same year he joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he taught for 46 years before retiring in 2006. During his time at the university, he also served as Associate Dean of the General College for over two decades, as director of the freshman chemistry lab program, and as advisor for the men’s basketball team.
Dr. Jicha was a supportive and dedicated teacher who took tremendous pride in the successes of the students he felt so honored to serve. He received numerous accolades for teaching, scholarship, and service to the University of North Carolina, including multiple Tanner Awards and the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award.
Don also found time to serve as a Cub and Boy Scout Troop Leader and saw both of his sons receive their Eagle Scout Awards. He was an avid fisherman, dog lover, and sports fan. He loved nothing more than watching Tar Heel basketball and football games with his sons and following Chicago’s professional sports teams, the Cubs and Bulls in particular. He was overjoyed when the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016.
In his later years, he loved playing bingo with fellow residents in the assisted living facility and watching westerns. But his greatest joys were his grandchildren. He loved celebrating their accomplishments and bragging about them to fellow residents. His eyes would light up when they arrived for their visits and he would relish hearing the stories from their week.
Dr. Jicha is survived by his two sons, Col. Gregory Jicha (ret.) (Deborah) and Dr. Karl Jicha (Candice), as well as four grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Camille, Cora, and Charles. He was preceded in death by his parents and three sisters, Jeanette (Jennie) Jicha, Alice Campbell, and Geraldine (Gerrie) Maslanka.
A celebration of life will take place on June 17, 2023, at 11:00 am at the Carolina Club on the University of North Carolina campus, following a private family service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Orange County Animal Shelter. Walker’s Funeral Home in Chapel Hill is assisting the family.