J. Virgil Hicks (Bamberg)
J. Virgil Hicks died January 27, 2019, the day after he and his wife, Betty Rose celebrated her 90th birthday. He went to sleep while she read her birthday cards to him. The day before, he got to drink one last beer with his wife, children and all of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It was a perfect ending to a marvelous life. His marriage to Betty Rose lasted nearly 70 years and produced a daughter, Dr. Laurie M. Hicks (m. Deborah Larson) and son, James V. Hicks, Jr. (m. Emily Pogue). He loved his "Rosie" and she still has the many love letters he wrote to her.
Virgil, born on December 15. 1928, was the last of five children and was the last of them to pass. He had a sister Ruth Alice Hicks Pflum that he adored. She was thirteen years his senior and was instrumental in raising him, as their mother died very young. His father, Albert Grayson Hicks started Hicks Lumber Company and operated sawmills from Santee to Jacksonboro. The family still benefits from his hard work and foresight. Virgil had to become the leader of the family business with the premature deaths of his three brothers Albert, Laurie and Jack.
In his beloved Bamberg, he served as mayor for nearly 30 years. During the often turbulent civil rights era, it was his moral compass that was a daily guide for Bamberg's citizens. He made sure everyone was heard, while deftly ensuring it was the voice of reason that was followed. He was a lifelong member and trustee of the First Baptist Church of Bamberg. He was a member of the board of directors of Home Federal Savings and Loan of Bamberg for 53 years, serving as chairman for 37 years. He was past president of the Orangeburg, Bamberg and Calhoun Counties' Homebuilders Association, having built over 600 homes and businesses in the area. He also served as president of the SC Municipal Association, which represents all the cities in the state. He was a Jaycee, a LION, a National Guardsman and member of Kappa Alpha Order at the University of South Carolina.
Virgil was a Southern Gentleman in the finest sense of the word. He had a quiet elegance about him which inspired others to either do or be their best. He seldom raised his voice and never his hand. He leads with a look, a nod or a head shake. Betty Rose called him the Great Confessor, as hundreds of people from the area came to seek his wisdom in marriage, finances and life. He was mechanically adept and could fix anything. He built his first home, an operating merry-go-round and the tallest tree house in town. He set a life example for his grandchildren and his seven great-grandchildren. They will miss his lessons more than they will ever know. His nephews, John Hicks, Chris Pflum and Bob Pflum benefited from his guidance and love.
Virgil was very comfortable in who he was, where he came from and what he wanted in life. He had no use for blowhards or socks and loved oysters and cigars. He was a success in marriage, business, politics and ultimately, the 30 years he spent in retirement (having "invented" the four-day work week in 1972). His happiest time was the 20 years he and Betty Rose spent crisscrossing North America in their various motor homes. Meeting interesting people along the way and sharing their stories brought him great joy. Additionally, in his retirement, he was fortunate to make many friends at his places in Hilton Head, Caesars Head and Florida. Still, his heart and residence were always in Bamberg, where he will rest forever.
The last year of Virgil's life with Parkinson's Disease was made much easier and more peaceful with the daily care of his special nurse, Angie Johnson. She was his earthly angel and will continue to be with Betty Rose. In this one last way, Virgil is still taking care of the wife he loved.
Memorials may be made to Parkinson's Foundation, 1359, Broadway Avenue, #1509 NY, NY 10018 or the charity of your choice.