Luella Edna (Hayes) Hickman, devoted daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, and more, passed away May 27, 2023, under hospice care in Clarinda, Iowa surrounded by her children. Born in Rapid City, SD August 1, 1929, to Theodore F. Gray and Cora (Vaughn) Gray, she spent most of childhood in various rural parts of Fremont County Iowa and called Riverton and Sidney home. Affectionately called Lue, she lived a life of love, strength, and courage, and one filled with silver linings which was true to her final days. She attained the age of 93 years, 9 months, and 26 days.
Smitten by a handsome gentleman home from WWII, she married George L. Hayes October 19, 1946. They started in Sidney and then quickly decided to venture to Oregon to follow other relatives there. Soon returning to SW Iowa, they eventually landed in Shenandoah in 1952 as George began work at Earl May Seed Company. Lue held several office clerical and accounting positions including Earl May and ‘the Gate Factory’. She never called it Farm Master Gate Factory. As she was one of the last ones there as they turned out the lights, she knew she wasn’t ready to retire. Taking a position stocking canned foods at Hy Vee, she worked to teach those young high schoolers how to really work (while also doing a bit of mothering to each of them).
Spring of 1960 was a special time as she and George adopted Cheryl, a 4-year-old girl and her brother, 3-year-old Ron. She liked to call the two, “the special chosen children”. The young family immediately started boating and camping. It was the best of times as camping brought campfires, one of her many joys! There were great times near lakes spent boating ALL day and fireside conversations by night. Nearly every campground within three hundred miles of Shenandoah was visited at least once.
A long-time member of Shenandoah United Methodist Church, she lived out her faith by trying her best to love everyone, as that was what Christ did and told us to do. She loved people and conversations. She found plenty of both in country-western swing dancing and picnics with campfires.
With George’s passing in 1995, time spent with friends doing lunches, coffee chats, and dancing became even more important. She found an excellent partner – that also danced – in Rex Hickman and they married in June of 1998. Turning 82, she decided her knees couldn’t take it anymore and retired from Hy Vee. “I can’t work and dance with these old knees. I’ll have to stop working as I’m not going to stop dancing.” Her dancing group usually met in Omaha and Council Bluffs but also made frequent trips to Branson of course as well as Minnesota and Tennessee. One trip to Knoxville provided an opportunity for Rex and Lue to show off their dancing skills on television. “Just listen to the music and move smoothly – its easy.”
Lue was preceded in death by her parents; husband George in 1995; and husband Rex Hickman in January of this year. All four of her siblings have also passed, Norma, Leonard, Betty, and Robert (Butch). Also by her stepdaughter-in-law Patti Hickman. She is survived by her daughter Cheryl (Bill) Farrell of Clarinda; son Rev. Ron (Julie) Hayes of Bella Vista, Arkansas; and her beloved stepchildren: Ann (Kevin) Podany of Omaha, NE, Tim (Kareen) Hickman of Omaha, NE, and Rob Hickman of Lincoln, NE. There are four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, step-grandchildren, and her precious nieces and nephews and friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held Monday, June 12, 2023, at 11:30 a.m. at Nishna Valley Funeral Home in Shenandoah. A time of Visitation will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the same location. Interment will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Shenandoah immediately following the Service.
In lieu of flowers, consider donations to the Shenandoah Parks Department (Nicholson Park) or to your local chapter of Hospice Care.