Salem-Richard “Dick” Alexander Hickland’s extraordinary life on earth ended with his departure to our Lord and Savior on July 1, 2019.
Dick was born on January 20, 1924 to Scots-Irish immigrants, James and Anne Hickland. The youngest of seven children, Dick began his life filled with joy, fights, messy chocolate ice cream, and love at his family’s farm in Enfield, Massachusetts. After the family farm was acquired for the Quabbin Reservoir, his family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts.
Dick’s early life was in the context of the Great Depression. During this time, Dick learned the value of helping neighbors, economy, and faith.
In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dick and eleven friends decided to enlist in the Marines. Because of his young age, Dick’s parents were required to consent to the enlistment. Dick was persuasive. Of the twelve friends, Dick and one other boy survived the war.
Dick attended basic training at Parris Island and was deployed to the North Sea, Scotland, Ireland, and London during WWII. As an officer, he performed all types of work, and saved a fellow Marine from drowning. He gave up sugar (so his parents could have his ration), a lifelong change in the way he drank his coffee.
After the completion of the war, Dick pursued his undergraduate degree at Norwich University (1950) and graduate studies at MIT (1952). Dick served many professional roles, including management positions at General Electric, Briggs Manufacturing, and as a management consultant for McKinsey and Company, before purchasing a farm in Salem, New York to live out his childhood ambition of farming.
On April 24, 1970, Dick met Sandra Fagerland at a piano bar in Minneapolis. In his re-telling, she wasn’t interested, but he persisted. On their first date he brought her toothpaste instead of flowers, a gesture both practical and memorable. Dick and Sandra made their home in Salem, where they raised their seven children.
After a farming accident, Dick returned to consulting at the request of a friend. He formed Hickland & Associates, Ltd. and continued in that work until he retired at the age of 80. He purchased the former Agway, now A&J Enterprises of Salem, later in life.
Though consulting required extensive travel, Dick always prioritized his family. He was a reliable attendee at his children’s sports games, music concerts, and school plays. He visited perspective colleges with his children and quizzed admissions deans about their programs. He taught his kids to be thankful, to always take care of each other, to forgive, and to leave a place a little better than they found it. Family dinner was an entertaining and educational event due to Dick’s vast and varied knowledge, and his quick wit. His children learned the value of butterfat in ice cream and the population of Fiji over Sunday brunch.
Dick served the Lord. He served his country. He served his family. He favored doing something well over doing it quickly. He explained his reasoning behind his decisions. He cared about others and helped quietly. He reminded his children a thousand times to hang up their coats. He called his wife “Honey” so often some thought it was her name. He invested in stocks. He was thoughtful. He was right. He offered his children advice and counsel, and sometimes just offered an understanding ear. He had a sweet tooth. He loved the Red Sox. He loved a challenge. He was frustrating to watch Jeopardy with. He had terrible handwriting, but powerful words. He adapted. He changed. He problem-solved. He was always faithful. So many relied on Dick that God understood He couldn’t take him away from them all at once. In the later part of Dick’s life, God started taking pieces. Recent memories, driving skills, more memories, some words, his interests, all words, his breath.
Dick is preceded in death by his parents and his siblings (Adelaide, Edith, James, Alice, Thomas, Sara). Dick is survived by his wife Sandy, his children Leslie (George) Hanks of Chambersburg, PA; Cole (Joanne) Hickland of Ballston Spa, NY; James (Heather) Hickland of Omaha, NE; John (Karen) Hickland of Salem, NY; Amanda (Matthew) Zhorne of Cedar Rapids, IA; Anne (Peter) Moberg of Lewisville, TX; Joshua (Victoria Anne) Hickland of Fredericksburg, VA; Jesse (Hillary) Hickland of Williamsport, PA; and Jude (Lindsay) Hickland of Dallas, TX, and his grandchildren, Brian (Cortney) Hanks, Justin (CJ) Hanks, Andrea, Courtney, Andra, Maura, Cameron, Ethan, Oliver, Simon, Gage & Jeremiah Zhorne, Daniel & Hanna Moberg, Shayne, Jude, Abram, Georgiana, Delta May, and by his standing challenge, to do as he has done, and leave this world a little better than they found it.
Calling hours will be from 5-7 pm Monday, July 8, 2019 at the Salem United Methodist Church, 29 West Broadway, Salem.
A funeral service will be at 10:00 am Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at the church. Interment will be at the Quabbin Park Cemetery, Ware, MA Tuesday at 4:00 pm.
Memorial contributions in memory of Dick may be made to any organization that is leaving the world better than they found it.