Robert  J. Hicks
Robert J. Hicks

January 10, 1930 - June 25, 2020
Born in rural Milo, Iowa
Resided in Des Moines, Iowa
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Robert Joseph Hicks died, age 90, on June 25, 2020 as result of having contracted Covid-19 during the current pandemic. The virus found him at the nursing home where he had lived the last 2 years of his long life.

Robert - or Bob as most people knew him - was born January 10, 1930 on a farm near Milo, Iowa to Cecelia and Joseph Hicks. Shortly after he was born the family moved to another area farm near Red Rock - a town now under the waters of Red Rock reservoir. Bob was a farm boy through and through, helping the family do all the day long, year-round chores that fall to farm kids, both before and after his father died when Bob was still young. Until the age of 14 he attended country schools in the area, remembering at least Union and Reese and maybe Stringtown, graduating from the 8th grade in 1943. That was as far as his formal schooling went, and when his mother moved her family to town Robert had his first ‘official’ employment making food at a Maid Rite sandwich shop. He worked also at the local Texaco service station where he pumped gas and fixed tires; he remembered filling tractor tires with antifreeze for the farmers for winterization. Both on and off the farm, Robert learned young and learned well that hard work was what it took to make ends meet. All his life he was always a hard worker, no matter what jobs he tackled, including moving pianos for Hopple Transfer and Storage in Des Moines or digging ditches and installing gas furnaces for Iowa Power and Light.

At age 17 Robert Hicks followed his 3 older brothers into military service. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1947 and was sent to boot camp in San Diego, California. His 20-year career saw him begin as an infantryman and rise through the ranks, teaching gunnery until later making the switch to data processing specialist, and he wound up his service bearing the rank of Master Sergeant. Along the way he married Dorothy Herron and was stationed in various places including Camp Pendleton, where 2 of his daughters were born, and Washington DC, Glenview and Great Lakes, Illinois, where daughter number 3 arrived. He served overseas in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Okinawa. In 1967 he retired from the Corps in Norfolk, Virginia, and 2 days later after driving his family home to Indianola after a record-setting snow and ice storm, the determined Robert was at his desk in a new, civilian, data processing job in Des Moines. He then worked for the State of Iowa Department of Public Safety where he helped design the first photo-inclusive drivers licenses and streamlined/innovated areas of data processing. His first marriage over, Bob met and married his second wife Elizabeth in 1970, and gained her daughter, Cheryl, as his daughter number 4. He moved his employment to the Office of the Comptroller where he continued in data processing until he retired from State government at the age of 53.

Bob then embarked upon a familiar project: farming 10 acres he had rented with intent to sell produce at farmers’ markets or from the back of his truck. For 2 years he put the second-hand equipment he’d purchased - and his strong back - to work plowing, harrowing, disking, digging, planting, watering, hauling - and put his two hands to weeding and picking. With a little after-work-hours help from family he raised tomatoes, peas, beans, corn, pumpkins, squash, gourds, turnips, kohlrabi, zucchini, potatoes, strawberries, carrots, cabbages - and more. All of which he happily sold at little if any profit - because most of his ‘customers’ had little money - and Bob was, not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination, but a friendly, good-natured man, and he was truly generous - to a fault.

His farming venture ended when a hailstorm destroyed the entire crop just before harvest the following year. That was too much. The ad in the paper said the first $1000 takes the tractor and everything, as his wife had insisted she would not watch him work so very hard for nothing. After that, Bob acquired an unusual and very much prized pickup truck with a dumper bed, and he enjoyed doing odd jobs like taking down trees that needed to be removed, hauling yard waste, and delivering and dumping rock for driveways, etc. He and wife, Liz, bought a summer trailer home on Lake Ponderosa near Montezuma, Iowa during these years. Every weekend it was off they went to the lake for cruising on the pontoon boat he had, waterskiing behind it, or for just relaxing in the shade away from the city. Grandkids were coming along by then and the lake house saw lots of family traffic over the years.

Bob really enjoyed get-togethers with his siblings and their families, and they often met up in Indianola, Lacona, and elsewhere for meals and visits. Picnics, events, holidays, reunions - whether in a restaurant or a church basement or a family member’s home, Bob loved to celebrate and gather with family. He also loved taking trips to Sheboygan Wisconsin to snag salmon in season and with his wife, friends, and brothers he did so, many times. He always had a sizable garden, and he and Liz did a lot of canning every harvest season; zucchini soups were a specialty. He planted more and more flowers around their yard, which he loved to decorate for Halloween when he passed out apples. Yes, apples - and the neighborhood kids all came, year after year.

When his wife died in 2008, Bob purchased a plot for them both at Pine Hill Cemetery next to his brother and his sister-in-law, and he will go to his eternal rest there, next to Liz.

Bob was the last of his siblings to leave us. Sister, Virginia, and brothers, Laverne, Clifford, and Dale preceded him in death, as did his wife, Elizabeth, and all his brother’s wives. He leaves behind 4 daughters, Linda Hicks, Cindy (John) Viera, Lisa Miller and Cheryl Lund; 7 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, and 11 nieces and nephews.

Those who knew Bob will remember quite a good-hearted character. He is already, and will be, missed by his family who feel sure he would not mind anyone raising a beer to toast his long life.

Here’s to you, Dad!






Grandview Park Funeral Home
3211 Hubbell Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50317
Thursday, July 2, 2020
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Graveside Service
Pine Hill Cemetery
508 NW 54th Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50313
Friday, July 3, 2020
10:30 AM


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105