He helped those in need

June 20, 2004|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." The story will take a look back at a member of the community who died in the past week through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Gerald Hicks, who died June 10 at the age of 81. His obituary appeared in the June 12 edition of The Herald-Mail.

FUNKSTOWN - Wilda Hicks said her husband, Gerald, would get up in the morning most days and say, "I want to do something for someone today."

And he would, enriching the lives of those he encountered as well as his own.

Gerald Hicks, 81, died June 10. His life centered around family, teaching, and enjoying music and fine arts, as well as lending his support and energy to helping those who needed help.

It was his love of knowledge and books that landed him the love of his life more than a half century ago.


"I was working at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown in 1953 when Gerald came in," Wilda said, reminiscing about her late husband this week at their Funkstown home.

In later years, Gerald would tell people that he came in for a book and got the librarian instead, Wilda said.

With a master's degree in education and a brief stint teaching in "regular high schools," Gerald joined the faculty at the Maryland Correctional Training Center and stayed here for 31 years.

Twin brother Jerry, who now lives in Nebraska, said both boys were named after their late father, who also was named Jerry.

"I was Jerry Jr. and Gerald was always called Gerald, not Jerry," he said.

The twins went to college together, taught history and English, and served in the U.S. Army together. While stationed in England, they got involved in the military band - Jerry on the baritone and Gerald on both the French horn and trumpet.

Through the years, the family stayed close through the annual Hicks family reunions and through letters.

"Gerald wrote great letters," his brother said.

When Gerald and Wilda moved into their home on Cemetery Street in 1955, they settled into a lifestyle filled with community activities at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, the Hagerstown Community Concert Association and the Maryland Symphony Orchestra.

"Gerald just loved going to the Antietam Battlefield each July 4 for the symphony performance," Wilda said.

Through his support of the Washington County Association for Retarded Citizens, Gerald saw the need for more fun activities for those clients and organized an annual Halloween costume party, which was held for at least 10 years.

"Last year, we couldn't do it and no one else took it on," Wilda said.

In declining health since a fall in 1999, Gerald spent the last six months of his life at the Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village near Boonsboro. Even though he wanted to be back home, his family said Gerald did enjoy the company of the other residents there.

"He was a very giving person, mild-mannered and easy to get along with," his brother said.

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