Suffolk man gets big birthday party

Published 10:30 pm Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Lora Carter’s mom always used to tell her to give a person their flowers while they’re still living.

So when she saw an opportunity to honor her father-in-law, Eddie Hicks, she took advantage of it in a big way.

She put on a big birthday party for Hicks, complete with a limousine ride from his home for him and several close friends, dinner, music, a comedian, praise dancers, gifts, vendors and more. About 150 people attended.

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“I just wanted to give him his flowers while he lives,” Carter said. “He does so much for everybody else and never looks for nothing in return.”

The party on Oct. 26 in Hampton followed Hicks’ actual Sept. 27 birthday by a month. But he’s still celebrating, he said this week.

“I’m still getting birthday presents now,” the 85-year-old Hicks said. “It was just as nice as it could be. I really did enjoy myself.”

Hicks is a Lake Kennedy resident who is originally from Lawrenceville. He moved to Suffolk 47 years ago to start work at the Newport News Shipyard, from where he retired after “23 years, five months and 10 days,” as he describes his tenure.

Hick is a multiple-time cancer survivor and member of Zion Community Church, and he has six children, nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He has served as vice president of the Nansemond-Suffolk Branch of the NAACP, president of the Lake Kennedy Civic League, first vice president of East Suffolk Federated Civic League and more.

But it’s his service as a neighbor and a friend sets him apart to those who know him.

“He has the biggest heart,” Carter said. “He’s always going and doing something. He’s just an awesome man. There’s nothing that he won’t do for anybody. He has the biggest heart in the world, and he doesn’t know a stranger.”

Carter said her father-in-law frequently visits people in the hospital and nursing home and prays for them. In fact, when she was planning the party, she called someone from his house and learned the friend was in the hospital — and Hicks, upon learning that, immediately got ready and went out the door to visit him.

“He’s just a giver,” she said.

In spite of his age, Hicks is still in excellent health and cuts grass and even cleans roofs and gutters for his neighbors.

“If he gives you his word, he’s going to do exactly what he says he’s going to do — and never late for nothing,” Carter said.

Longtime friends Constance E. Jones and Ethel Collington also sing Hicks’ praises.

“He’s a sweet person, and very nice,” Collington said.

“He is a good friend,” Jones said. “He’s friendly, he’s down to earth and he’s not pretentious. He’s a man of God. He’ll do anything he can to help anybody.”