Monday, April 15, 2024

Harley E. Hickling , 88, of Virginia Beach

Harley E. Hickling (Altmeyer Funeral Home)

Harley Emerson Hickling (USN LCDR Ret.), 88, passed away in his home in Virginia Beach, VA on February 14, 2024. Harley was born in 1935 in Eden, New York to Emerson and Muriel (Nelson) Hickling who were Canadian immigrants. He joined a brood of six children who explored the family farm, played in deep Lake-Erie-effect snowfalls, and sold produce from their roadside stand just outside city limits. Harley graduated from Eden High School in 1953 where he excelled in athletics and music (trombone). He followed his brother and best friend, Nelson, to Bowling Green University (OH). He barely earned his bachelor’s degree (as he often chided himself) in photojournalism and political science in 1957.

It was his college major which caused him to cross paths with his future wife, Suzanne Munro. They met at a television station in Buffalo, NY where he worked, and she was registering for a pageant. During their courtship, Harley enlisted in the United States Navy to become a pilot. They married in 1959. Soon after their marriage, Harley and Suzanne explored the country and the world together as they added to their own family.

Harley was stationed in Virginia, Texas, Florida, California, and Hawaii. In the Navy, he proudly served in different roles. He was a pilot, flight instructor, and crash scene investigator. He often flew the P-3 Orion which was used for marine patrol, reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare, and anti-submarine warfare. It was his favorite plane to fly by far. Harley served two tours in the Vietnam War. He had several long-term deployments around the world. His last post was at NAS Norfolk (VA).

After long losing the faith of his youth, he started searching for meaning in the world. His voracious reading ability led him to learn deeply about various world-wide spiritual and religious faiths. Members of the church affiliated with their sons’ Hawaiian school paid the family a visit to invite the family to church. He asked Jesus to become his Lord and Savior that night at an altar call at Grace Bible Church in Kalihi, Hawaii. He was a self-described born-again Christian – a “sold out believer”. As he renewed his faith, his internal change had ripple effects in the family – all following in his faith-filled footsteps.

Harley and Suzanne raised four sons. He enjoyed his nine grandchildren immensely. He had the honor of seeing his oldest grandson (Ryan) marry his bride (Megan) a few months ago.

Harley will be deeply missed by his family. He was a kind, patient, faithful, smart, and non-judgmental man. Harley was generous when helping others. He was on the go growing a large vegetable and flower garden, preparing meals for the family, attending games and performances, and driving family to places around town when needed. The local library will have a much lower book circulation count as he would polish off novels and non-fiction very quickly.

Harley is predeceased by his parents; his siblings Phyllis Carine, Douglas Hickling, Nelson Hickling, and Lois Hickling; his wife; and his oldest son (Scott Hickling). He is survived by his oldest sister, Doris Kopf, and three sons: Ross (Andrea) Hickling, John (Charlene) Hickling, and James (Melissa) Hickling. Harley’s remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery alongside his wife.

A visitation for friends and family will be held Friday, February 23, 2024, at Altmeyer Funeral Home – Southside Chapel on Rouse Rd in Virginia Beach at 4 p.m. A service in honor of Harley’s life will be held immediately after the visitation at 5 p.m. A light dinner will be served to family and friends following the service.

Memorial contributions in his honor may be made to World Vision, American Diabetes Association, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), or a homeless shelter.

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