Mary W Hicks, PhD
(1920 - 2017)

Mary W Hicks PhD

Oregon, United States of America
July 31, 1920

North Carolina, United States of America
December 5, 2017

This site is dedicated to Mary W.Hicks, PhD

An obitogy (combination of obituary and eulogy)
By Julie Hicks-Pledger

Mary W. Hicks Ph.D., also known in her earlier years as Mary Agnes Ward died on December 5th 2017 at the age of 97. She left behind forty two hats, a seven page professional vitae, sixteen chapters of personal stories which we think might be a memoir, and a very special fondness for the well turned phrase: "Every morning I am awash with Good Intentions (well on my way to Hell)."

This obitogy is awash with good intentions for the complicated, funny, resilient, doggedly determined, sometimes exasperating, (“again mom…with the attachment theory speal?”), generous person you would recognize immediately if you knew her, (geriatric starlet that she was), the person who entertained you, (and the grocery clerk and the doctor and the hairdresser and the waiter etc.), with a witty story or risqué joke, or the colleague, friend and teacher that shared her passion for all that is “Couple and Family Dynamics”.

We are fortunate to have gleaned many valuable lessons from Mary during her 97 years, (tidbits in quotations are her very own words), among them:

On Food:
If there’s lamb on the menu – order it.

When your kids ask you what’s for dinner and it’s an unrecognizable, but very creative mish mash, proclaim cheerfully: “It’s Donkey Fazoo”.

When you reach your 90’s, bliss out on MacDonald’s Egg McMuffin breakfasts, (scoff at fast food until you reach your 90’s).

When you’re a 50’s housewife stuck in an abusive marriage make a batch of fudge and then another, and then another. Keep making those batches of fudge as you “carry on” - through graduate school and doctoral programs and single parenting and moving from state to state and sobering up or any other necessary “reimagining your life” exercises. (Pie can be substituted for fudge at any time or for that matter, any food item with butter in it, lots of butter.)

Save all the recipe books of your mother’s and grandmother's especially those with handwritten notes scrawled in the margins.

“At meal time especially, there needs to be a whole lot more smiling and singing things like, “Happy Days Are Here Again,” a smile here and there never hurt. Much.”

On Family:
Search for your roots and rise above, especially if the sting of your childhood warrants it.

When you discover you have “deep and profoundly meaningful” Scottish roots in the Clan MacDonald from the Isle of Skye, find out for yourself what the Scotsman wears under his kilt. Gather various modern day “assorted kinfolk” (relatives) together in reunion type festivities in attempts to “dig around among family roots”.

Quote William Faulkner “The past is not dead, in fact, it is not even past” and Jonathon Livingston Seagull “It is never too late to change your present, your future or your past” in the prologue of your memoir.

Towards the end of your life, tell the stories of your childhood which seem to have been hovering, waiting to be re-remembered and told. Like the summer when you stayed at your cousins’ “no indoor plumbing” farmhouse and your brother, in cahoots with the other boy cousins, snuck mousetraps into the girls’ chamber pots causing quite a commotion during midnight pee breaks!

On Textiles and Being a Geriatric Fashion Luminary:
Be obsessed with texture, color, and pattern in fabric. Stockpile Fabric, Stockpile Notions, Stockpile Patterns. Search for bargains in all categories.

Shoulder pads make good hat inserts, helping considerably with sizing.

Periodically give your daughters gifts of clothing that might be suitable for a night of bingo …in Miami.

Be DIY and Eco-chic way before it was called DIY and Eco-Chic, (translation: “I sew my own clothes”).

Never sew slacks, don’t even own a pair of slacks for that matter (until you’re in your 60’s).

Finding stylish shoes in size 10 is a worthy endeavor. If you should find yourself on the floor after a fall, unable to rise for many, many hours, said stylish size 10 shoes could be flung at house alarm, alerting help. (Never mind that said shoes probably caused the fall in the first place.)

Never let anyone attempt a collage of your driver’s license photos chronicling your ever-changing hair color from brown to auburn to various versions of Clairol blonde-in-a-box. (Coloring finally abandoned - gorgeous white locks underneath – who knew?)

Accessorize with abandon and a certain joie de vivre – from jewelry to belts to shoes to scarves to hats, earning your daughter donned title: “Fashion Conversation Piece”.

On Parenting:
Read and re-read, underline and dog-ear your copy of “Parenting from the Inside Out”.

Ask questions of your adult daughters regarding the validity of the following question: “did you feel like your childhood was an emotional wasteland”, despite their “not again” eye rolling, evasive or brutally honest answers.

Have professional vitae that is 7 pages long proving your insistent desire to understand families.

Try to be a Buddhist when ruminating about the inevitable occupational hazard of being a parent – that you didn’t do it right. Notice the questions you ask of yourself about how your life was complicated by complicated parents and then develop a compassion for what they could not be.

Leave copies of Pema Chodron’s "When Things Fall Apart" along with John Gottman’s "The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work" under your daughter’s couch after visiting.

On Exercise:
Forget about it.

In her own words: “Seated Volleyball is an insult to athletes the world over. The volleyball is a big beach ball, no score is recorded and half the players come from the H & W* side. (* Convalescing patients from the Health and Wellness wing of The Forest at Duke Assisted Living program.) “See like I always said, “Exercise is bad for you. Forget exercise – we have been duped.”

Blame your “blow job”* for having to partake in Seated Volleyball in the first place. (*Valvuloplasty procedure of forcing heart valve open by inserting balloon into artery and blowing!)

Live by Phyllis Diller’s words on exercise: "My idea of exercise is a brisk sit."

In all seriousness:
Mary is survived by her daughters: Lorna Hicks and Julie Hicks-Pledger and her grandsons: Seth Kingsbury (wife Amanda), Jesse Pledger and Jake Pledger. She is predeceased by her brother Herbert James Ward, Jr. Other assorted kinfolk include a plethora of in-laws, nieces and nephews including but not limited to Donna Ward, James G. Ward (wife Caroline and children Beth, James and Robert), Russell Ward, John Pledger and all her beloved friends and colleagues too numerous to list but not forgotten.

She will be missed. Donning a hat in remembrance is mandatory.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (6 entries)
From visiting Aunt Mary in Penn State country on a very cold 1969 January (with Lorna and Julie and Peanut the beagle), to the Clan MacDonald reunion at Dad's farm/ranch in Oregon's Willamette Valley, to the Ward-Jones-Jasper-MacDonald reunion at Joseph, Oregon, to Florida State country,and finally Duke/NC country, with frequent times in Seattle: Aunt Mary certainly traveled (did I mention India?), brooked no nonsense yet seemed on good terms with everyone. That's a worthwhile epithet.
James Ward (Nephew)
July 5th, 2018
Mary meant so much to me. We had breakfast most Saturday mornings for several years before she moved away. When she could no longer drive, I picked her up, ran through McDonald's for an Egg McMuffin, and we met Pat Johnson at Bruegger's Bagels. Mary loved her little way of resisting the norm by getting her drink at Bruegger's and eating McDonald's. Plus she enjoyed the fact that McDonald's used real eggs! She came and stayed with me for a week in Jacksonville Fl while I got radiation therapy after breast cancer in 2010. We had a great time browsing fabric stores and she brought a hat to reshape. Mary was a remarkable woman who shaped who I am today. I am very grateful for the years I knew her and her willingness to share herself so unconditionally.
Pauline Patrick (friend and Saturday morni)
July 5th, 2018
What a wonderful, eclectic, fashionista, friend-to-many, therapist-to-all, totally awesome woman was Dr. Hicks! I had the pleasure of working for her on some of her Gottman conference materials. I admired her so much, and just appreciated her for her jokes and words of wisdom. As Ann said, "The world is a lesser place when she is not physically present in it." So true!
Maggi Vanos (Staff, Admirer)
April 30th, 2018
Thank you Mary, wherever you are, for your words of encouragement or admonishment! I could never figure out which it was, but if I had merely listened, I might have done better...
Russell Ward (Clan)
April 28th, 2018
So many memories and thoughts of Mary--a very recent thought, while on a cruise the dinner menu had an item listed as "lamb two ways". My immediate thought was Mary, I ordered it as she would have directed and it was wonderful.
I am grateful to have known Mary as a friend and colleague and to have had special times when she visited us in Montana! On one visit a group of us drove to Glacier National Park. As we went up the Going to the Sun Road we stopped at the big switch back where there is a parking area and an opportunity to hike a bit. Mary opted not to hike but to sit on the rock wall and enjoy the scenery. I wish I had a digital picture I could add of what greeted our group upon return from a brief hike. Dr. Mary Hicks, dressed in her usual fashionable gear and jewelry, holding court surrounded by a large group of leather clad motor cyclists. I believe she was holding forth on Gottmann.
Our travel to France with Mary was also memorable! Everyday was a new event. We woke one morning to find Mary sitting in the courtyard of our rental, studiously avoiding a neighbor dog who came to visit, while remaking a denim jacket into a vest with a faux fur collar. Another day Ron had to do something of a rescue as Mary was surrounded by a group that locals referred to as "gypsies". And then there was the morning shopping trip to the local market. We split up, each of us to select the ingredients for our part of the evening meal. Mary was in charge of the entree and she wanted a pork loin. I turned to look for her and there she was, one leg up on the butcher counter, trying to point out which part of the body might be a loin.
There were so many laughs with Mary as well as very serious political discussions over wonderful meals.
Mary was a gift to those of us who knew her and appreciated her. I will long miss her. The world is a lesser place when she is not physically present in it.
Ann Mullis (Friend, Devotee)
April 27th, 2018
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"HAPPY DAY AFTER WHAT WOULD OF BEEN YOUR 99th BIRTHDAY! Thought of you all day yesterday on your birthday...more specifically: what hat to wear in your honor!"
Julie Hicks-Pledger
August 1st, 2019
"It's been a year (as of the 5th). I miss you so much, mom. I drank black coffee, went shopping for bargains and napped at a matinee movie in your honor. I love you, Julie"
Julie Hicks-Pledger
December 7th, 2018


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