The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

Suggest Edits

Elsie Gardener Lavender Hickam

  • Birth 15 Jun 1912 Gary, McDowell County, West Virginia, USA
  • Death 7 Oct 2009 Garden City Beach, Horry County, South Carolina, USA
  • Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered
  • Memorial ID 113697877

Elsie Gardener Hickam, 97, of Garden City, S.C., passed away peacefully on Wednesday, October 7, 2009. Until the last, she lived in her house in Garden City, adjacent to Myrtle Beach, S.C.

She was born Elsie Gardener Lavender on June 15, 1912, in Atkin (near Gary), McDowell County, W.Va., to James and Minnie Lavender.

She lived for many years in Coalwood, W.Va., then moved to live in Garden City, S.C. She was preceded in death by her husband, Homer Hickam Sr., who died on September 2, 1989. Until his retirement, Homer was the mine superintendent of Olga Coal Company. Her brothers, Kenneth, Joe, Charlie, Victor, and James Kent, also preceded her in death.

Elsie was a graduate of Gary High School, Class of 1930. She was active in many organizations in Coalwood including the Coalwood Community Church Methodist Women's Circle and the Olga Woman's Club. She also supported the local schools, working tirelessly to raise funds for a variety of student activities. Most of all, she loved whatever her two sons were doing and helped them with advice and counseling throughout her long and splendid life. She was prominently featured in the memoirs written by her second son, Homer Jr., which included Rocket Boys, The Coalwood Way, Sky of Stone, and We Are Not Afraid. Her character was played by Natalie Canerday in the film October Sky. Last year, she was thrilled when the Northside High School football stadium in Roanoke, Va., was named for her son, Jim, who was the head football coach at Northside for many years.

She is survived by her sister, Mary Lavender, of Mount Airy, N.C.; two sons, James Venable Hickam and wife, Betty Laphew, of Roanoke, Va., and Homer (Sonny) Hickam Jr. and wife, Linda Terry, of Huntsville, Ala. She is also survived by a granddaughter, Cheyanne Hickam, of Roanoke; and three greatgrandsons, James David, Michael and Rex Hadley Morgan.

Since Elsie was a lover of all cats, please send memorial donations to www. or Forgotten Felines, P.O. Box 4506, Huntsville, Ala. 35815. Memorial services will be private. Please send online condolences to

Published in Roanoke Times on October 10, 2009

Family Members


See more Hickam memorials in: