Wilbert "Wil" Hicks
Wilbert "Wil" Hicks
Let us remember with thanksgiving the life and ministry of Wilbert (Wil) Alphonso Hicks, 71, of New Rochelle, NY who died on Friday, June 2, 2023 after a long illness. He was the husband of Rev. Dr. Peola Hicks forty-seven years.
Wilbert Alphonso (Fonz) was born October 5,1951, and raised in Stuart, Virginia. He was the son of the late Henry Nelson and Mary Lucille (London) Hicks. Wilbert learned his work ethic very early having worked alongside both his mother and father. At a young age Wilbert was baptized and gave his life to Christ and united with the First Christian Church of Stuart. He served as the church pianist playing for the church choir and for Sunday morning services during his teenage years.
Wilbert attended Patrick Central School in Stuart, VA. At this time, schools in Stuart were segregated. When Wil was entering high school in 1965, there was a voluntary program initiated by the Patrick County Virginia School System that would accept black students into an integrated setting. Wil opted to attend one of the Patrick County schools, Stuart High School, in 1969, and was one of the first black students to attend and graduate.
After graduation, Wil attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina. He moved to New York in the early 70’s and after several years of working odd jobs, he began his career at International Business Machines (IBM) jokingly known as ‘I’ve Been Moved’. It was there that Wil met and later married the love of his life, Peola Coble who also worked for IBM. They were united in marriage on June 19, 1976, and together they raised their family while moving from New York to Maryland to Colorado and to Connecticut where he retired in 2008.
Wil started his 35-year career, at IBM at the age of 21, working in Shipping and Receiving. While in that department, he received recognition and a monetary award for developing a new innovative way of shipping orders. He continued to grow with the company, at various levels, and retired at age 56, as a Human Resource Executive. Wil found the time to ski and play golf and enjoy family vacations. After his retirement, Wil continued to be an avid golfer, a mentor to at-risk youth, and served on various not for profit boards. He also became the family wedding planner.
He joined the New Life United Methodist Church in New Fairfield, CT and served there for a short while, until his wife was appointed to the Naugatuck United Methodist Church in CT. He served at the Naugatuck United Methodist Church as head of the ushers, bell choir, and on the Emergency Response Team. Wil was a team leader for the mission to help the Navajo Indians through pumpkin sales.
In addition to his wife of 47 years, Peola, Wil is survived by his daughters, Kimberlee Coble Hicks Blackett (Lemuel) of San Diego, CA and Sarah Danielle Hicks, Waterbury, CT, and three grandchildren Brendan, Sasha, and Noah Blackett. He is also survived by sisters, Joan Hicks Boddie of Charlotte, NC, Melva Hicks of Atlanta GA, and a brother, James Hicks (Cynthia) of Gastonia, NC, sisters in law and one brother in law; Debbie Freeman Hicks of New Milford, CT, Jerldine Toppin of Stony Point, NY, Veronica Groom of Virginia Beach, VA, Brenda Coble-Mitchell of Newberg, NY, and Lee oble (Dianne) Richmond, VA, along with a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Wil was preceded in death by his oldest brother Charles Hicks.
In the words of his wife – “It is hard to describe a man who was small in stature, yet big in personality. He was my coach, best friend, love of my life, lover of Jesus and his church, ministry partner, beloved dad, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and a friend to many. We have come full circle. When I met him, he lived in New Rochelle, and we after having travelled to many places, now reside in New Rochelle. Even in death, I see the providence of God. New Rochelle will be his final burial ground, the place where it all started for us. I will miss him terribly, but will continue to do what I know he loved. What a Mighty God we serve.
”A funeral service for Wil was held at 11:00am on Thursday, June 8, 2023 at New Rochelle United Methodist Church, 1200 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY.