2011 Mary Hicks Honored for Community Service by Buena Park Rotary
Mary Hicks Honored by Buena Park Rotary for her many years of Community Service.The Biography of Mary Janet Monforte Hicks and the History of Her Community Service follows.
Mary Monforte was born on December 23, 1913 in Kansas, where her parents had a farm.
Mary grew up in a rural town with her three younger brothers. She distinguished herself academically throughout her school years, and at the end of high school she was offered a scholarship to attend Bethany Nazarene College in Bethany, Oklahoma. She graduated from this college in 1936 at the top of her class, with majors in Mathematics and English and a minor in History. The following year she obtained teacher’s training in Edmond, Oklahoma, and spent 6 years teaching in Oklahoma high schools.
At that time, World War II had begun. Mary’s youngest brother was drafted, and in a show of support for her brother Curtis, Mary enlisted in the Army as well. She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, whose name was later changed to Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Her basic training was completed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Later, Mary was assigned to the Intelligence division of the Manhattan Project and was stationed at Oakridge, Tennessee, where she met her future husband, Jim Hicks. They were married at the Chapel on the base in March 1945, and later that year made their home in Buena Park, California.
In their nineteen years of marriage, the couple had five children: Jimmy, Janet, Beth, Mary Ellen, and Benny. Mary was a stay-at-home mother for a few years, but went back to teaching at local elementary schools in Buena Park and Anaheim in 1950 when Jim suffered serious health problems. Between 1955 and 1964, Mary was active with Brownies/Girl Scouts and as a 4-H Club Leader. Jim passed away in 1964 of a heart attack, and Mary finished raising the five children, who ranged in age from 9 to 18 at the time of Jim’s death.
Four years before her retirement from teaching in 1976, Mary earned a Master’s of Education degree from California State University Long Beach. Education has always been a high priority for Mary, and she encouraged all her children to attend college. Four of the five earned Bachelor degrees, with three going on to advanced degrees.
Devotion to her Christian faith and service to church has been a constant characteristic of Mary’s life. She began teaching a Sunday school class for adults in 1949 at the First Baptist Church of Buena Park, and with very few interruptions, she continues to teach a similar Sunday school class now at the First Church of the Nazarene in Buena Park. She also volunteered with Vacation Bible School at First Baptist for 46 years as well. She also leads a women’s group each Wednesday morning as a part of Bible Study Fellowship in Anaheim.
Mary is a member of other groups as well: Women’s Club of Buena Park and the Acacia Quilting Guild of Buena Park are two in particular. Her hobbies and other interests include quilt making, gardening (she has more than 100 rose bushes), oil painting, and documenting family history for extended family members.
Mary’s extended family is large, and besides her five children and their spouses it includes 22 grandchildren, 50 great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins, all of whom love the cinnamon rolls she makes from scratch for family celebrations.
Mary is a much beloved and highly respected member of her family, her church, and her community.