|Birth: ||Jan. 25, 1933|
|Death: ||Nov. 18, 2012|
Lakeland's Miss America 1953, Neva Langley Fickling, passed away early this morning surrounded by her loved ones. She was 79.
Fickling, of Macon, Ga., who graciously accepted that the title she won all those years ago would stay with her for a lifetime, died of cancer. One of her longtime friends, Marcia Pate Tomkow of Lakeland, said the disease had spread extensively in the past year.
News of her death will of course be offered while connected to her infamous crown, being a beauty queen was not what defined Neva Langley Fickling.
With impeccable Southern manners, she made it known that she did not care to be defined as "Miss America," nor did she believe that beauty was all-important.
A graduate of Wesleyan College, she studied piano - and a famous New York Times music critic, Deems Taylor, was judging talent during her Miss America competition. She won the talent award.
She had stopped playing publicly later in life. She devoted much of her time to extensive volunteer work and doted on her husband, Bill Fickling, their four children, and many grandchildren.
Her many honors included recognition by the Georgia chapter of the Alzheimer's Association as a Champion at a benefit. Mercer University named its music hall the Neva Langley Fickling Hall. Wesleyan, provided her with an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 1984.
Services are to be held in Macon on Tuesday afternoon, at Mulberry Street United Methodist church. In Lakeland, many will privately commemorate her as well. The Florida native and Lakeland hometown girl never forgot her roots, friends say.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
Created by: Dr. William McDonald
Record added: Nov 19, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 100908415