Elizabeth Rose Whitaker Hicks, the only child of Mark Durant and Ina Brandenburg Whitaker, danced her way into Heaven Sunday morning May 30, 2021. Betty Rose as she was called by friends and family was the only granddaughter of her maternal grandmother, who lived with her. She had two uncles and one aunt that had no children. She was the princess of the family. She excelled in academics and was the 1947 valedictorian of Orangeburg High School. She made good decisions all her life, most importantly marrying J. Virgil Hicks. He was the youngest in a family of five. She loved being married and becoming a part of his big family. The Hicks Family adopted the small Whitaker Family and they became the best of friends throughout their lives. Betty Rose and Virgil were a couple and a team for 70 years until his death in 2019. Bamberg was their home for most of those years and she was Bamberg’s First Lady for 26 years. She was active at First Baptist Church serving as a Sunday school teacher. In 1991 Virgil retired and they moved to Hilton Head and during those years traveled across the United States multiple times. They had an active and interesting retirement. Four years ago Betty Rose and Virgil moved to Mt. Pleasant to be closer to their children.
Pampered child as she was, she was not made familiar with the kitchen. Her married life cooking file only included a dozen or two recipes half of which involved a can of mushroom soup. Her children can recite these meals from memory today. While Betty Rose was not much of a cook, she did enjoy food if it included a mountain of salt, buckets of sugar and pounds of butter. She was a medical marvel eating what she did, living to be 92 and never weighing more than 98 pounds in her life!! What she lacked in kitchen abilities she more than made up in homemaking skills— her home was immaculate. Every drawer and closet was in A-1 order. Canned goods were alphabetized, linens ironed, folded, squared off and in place, trash cans emptied every day, used beds made immediately, and floors so shinny and clean you could eat off them. Betty Rose despised dirt and craved order.
Born months before the Crash of ’29, Betty Rose was a child of the Great Depression and it impacted her greatly. She remembered her father losing his job and her mother opening a dress shop to support the family. All her life she was a saver of money, sure that tough times were ahead and the money would be needed. The Depression taught her not to waste anything. Everything she bought was “on sale”, air conditioning ran only if temperatures reached 90 degrees, torn sheets became rags, plastic grocery bags were reused as trash can liners and shoe boxes were ultimately storage containers. She loved the ideas from the homemaker column “Hints from Heloise”. She felt it was a sin to throw food away. Leftovers were saved and served again and again until at long last she would feed them to the birds. All this said about her thriftiness, she wrote checks to virtually every group or cause that asked. Every disease fighting organization in America and 50% of TV preachers received at least one check from her. In Bamberg and everywhere she lived she would always drop by flowers or a few slices of cake to those she called “shut-ins”. She was thoughtful in her daily life. She gave personally, quietly and often.
As close as Betty Rose was with things and money, she was extremely generous with her humor, smile, and kindness. Betty Rose was dear to her friends and they were dear to her. She is the next to the last survivor of her seven member Orangeburg kindergarten group. The seven girls remained friends and in touch, through out all their lives. No small feat considering the expense of long distance phone calls and no internet. She was the last surviving charter member of the Bamberg Thursday Afternoon Bridge Club that met for sixty years. Every other week the ladies would dress in their best, pull out the fine china and talk about everything going on in town. There were thousands of friends in between and she love and enjoyed them all. Her highest compliment was to call someone a “lovely” person.
After becoming a grandmother Betty Rose was rechristened Rosie and it was picked up by many. Rosie was adored by her three grandchildren Maggie, Grayson and Ginger. She will remain in their memories for the rest of their lives. She loved seeing pictures of her eight great-grandchildren. They are going to miss her love, cards, phone calls, and … checks. Her niece, Gray Hicks Johnston and nephew, John E. Hicks died before her. Her two nephews Bob and Chris Pflum survive her. These three nephews and their wives Carol, Peggy, and Paula were always sweet to her.
Betty Rose was a loving mother to her daughter Dr. Laurie M. Hicks and son, James V. Hicks, Jr. She was actively involved in all facets of their childhood and she totally shaped them — Laurie saves like her and Jay eats like her. The main gift she gave to them was her love. When each of them sometimes chose paths others may have frowned upon, it was their mother that loved them always and unconditionally. She set the example for others. They always knew she was there for them. Mercifully, Laurie and her wife, Deb and Jay and his wife, Emily were able to be with her these last years when she needed them. She left them and they left her with no regrets. She knew who loved and appreciated her. Betty Rose now lies next to Virgil, wearing her new Talbot's dress, gold “Cockroach” earrings and green dancing shoes. Strike up the band!! Rosie is in Heaven!