He was born to Philip E Askey and Bessie May Askey on June 4, 1933, in St. Louis, MO.
Dick devoted his life's work to mathematics and math education. He joined the University of Wisconsin Mathematics department in 1963 as an Assistant Professor and retired as a John Bascom Professor of Mathematics in 2003. Dick was the world's foremost authority on Special Functions. Dick travelled the world giving talks on mathematics and sharing the genius of the mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1969-1970, and spent the academic year at the Mathematisch Centrum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and brought his family with him. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993, a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in 2009, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012 and was also an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Mathematical Society. Dick generously used his time to help many mathematicians around the world with their careers. He was a man of integrity and lived his life to help others and share knowledge.
Early in his career Dick made a commitment to improving K-12 math education. He opposed "new math" in the 1960's and helped point out deficiencies in more recent changes to math education.
Dick was a loving husband and father. Dick and Liz's devotion to one another has been an inspiration to those who know them. During his last years, he faithfully cared for Liz during her Alzheimer's journey. They raised their children with a love of books, curiosity about the world, and with great kindness. Dick baked cookies and popovers with his children, read them countless books, and supported and encouraged their education of all types, from college to other classes like photography, dance, puppetry, ceramics, and swimming. Together, Dick and Liz supported the Arts, literacy programs, education, and a homeless program for women and children at the YWCA.