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Elizabeth Hickman

September 30, 1922 — February 29, 2024

Cleveland

Elizabeth Hickman

Elizabeth Louise Podesta Hickman passed away February 29, 2024, at the age of 101. 

Born in Livingston, IL, a small coal-mining town, she was the youngest of three children of Louis Podesta and Della (Martin) Podesta. Her parents died young, while she was still a teenager. Elizabeth was a fine student and an excellent debater in high school; and with the help of her older brother William and sister Violet, she somehow managed to attend college during the Great Depression. She graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Illinois University, and later in her life the University recognized her as a distinguished alumna. 

 

World War II was raging when she finished college, and Elizabeth volunteered to join the Navy WAVES. After basic training (and a great deal of marching), she was posted to Washington, D.C., and served in the Office of Naval Intelligence. For the rest of her life, her family and friends knew her as a formidable walker and sometimes struggled to keep up. It was in Washington that she met (and soon married) Franklin Hickman. They both loved to dance and were excellent dancers. 

 

Marriage meant the end of her military career, but also led to the birth of daughter Virginia (born in Washington, D.C.).  At the end of the war, Frank Sr., who was an electrical engineer, accepted a job with Western Electric Co.; and the young family moved to Galion, OH, where son Franklin Jr. was born. A few years later, Frank Sr. rejoined the military and served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force. 

 

Elizabeth filled the role of a military wife, supporting her husband and moving every two or three years. She also, whenever possible, continued her education, and was very active in volunteer work and substitute teaching. In her 50’s she was able to finish coursework and earn an education doctorate from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

 

She established a counseling office at Marymount University (Arlington, VA) and eventually served as an associate dean for the school. Her then-retired husband Col. Hickman put his engineering skills to use and organized the university’s audio-visual resources. Col. Hickman died in Arlington in 1987 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Elizabeth continued her volunteer activities in the Washington area, including decades of service at the White House and the Kennedy Center. For 20 years she was a member of the steering committee for the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.

 

Clearly a woman of achievement, she brought her intelligence, talents, and energy to every part of her life. She loved her family above all. She enjoyed frequent travel and visited all continents except Antarctica. An avid gardener in Virginia, she would rise at dawn, or before, every morning to attend to the demands of her roses (which were large, colorful, fragrant, and demanding divas). 

 

She is survived by her daughter Virginia Hickman Hellstern (husband Ray) and her son Franklin J. Hickman, Jr. (wife Kathleen), as well as five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Her funeral mass will be on April 20, 2024, at the Church of St. Dominic, 19000 Van Aken Blvd. (at Norwood), Shaker Heights, Ohio 44122.  Visitation will be at 10 AM at the church followed by the funeral mass at 10:30.  The Mass will be live-streamed through www.stdominicchurch.net   Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery on a date to be determined.  Donations instead of flowers may be made to the Judson Foundation at https://www.judsonsmartliving.org/foundation/ 

 

She was the last of her generation, and her family will think of her often, with great affection.

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, April 20, 2024

10:00 - 10:30 am (Eastern time)

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Mass

Saturday, April 20, 2024

10:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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