March 24, 1927 — June 23, 2012
A funeral service will be conducted Thursday, June 28, for Martha Dean Hickman, 85, of Crows Landing, who died on Saturday June 23, 2012. Born on March 24, 1927 in Howe, Okla., to James Harvey Balentine and Myrtle Parker, Martha moved to California with her family in 1944 and came to reside in Crows Landing where she remained throughout her life.
Upon moving to Crows Landing, Martha met her lifelong partner John Hickman, Jr. and they married on March 21, 1947. She was always involved in her community and became a very well-known figure, even assuming the role as the self-appointed Mayor of Crows Landing. She took a profound interest in the lives of those around her, especially enjoying spending time with her family and savoring the moments with them. Despite her small stature compared to those around here, Martha was very much a protector of those she loved in childhood and throughout her life.
Although she had a wide variety of jobs throughout her lifetime, Martha perhaps became best known as a school bus driver for Pacthett’s, later known as Laidlaw, in Newman for 31 years, where she transported generations of children to school from Crows Landing and left the lasting impression of her unique, fun-loving, and lively personality on all who entered her bus.
Martha was an avid sports fan, greatly enjoying and loving to watch the San Francisco 49ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as the sporting events of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. In July 1955, she participated in the Powder Puff Auto Racing Derby, finishing, as she said, “in first place upside down,” after flipping her vehicle in front of the grandstand!
Martha was known to occupy her time with a host of activities, most prominently gardening, inspired by her love of growing flowers and an entire home field of fruits and vegetables. She loved to read, particularly mysteries, and instilled the hobby in her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, always enjoying sitting with them and sharing a great story or a book. Martha enjoyed crocheting and was an enthusiastic collector of many treasures. She was an avid shopper and loved to do so with her family.
A funeral service memorializing the wonderful life of Martha Hickman will be conducted at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 28, at Hillview Funeral Chapel, 450 W. Las Palmas Ave., in Patterson. Burial will follow at Patterson District Cemetery, 10800 Highway 33, Patterson. A viewing will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday June 27, at Hillview Funeral Chapel and again at 8 a.m. prior to the service Thursday June 28.
Martha is preceded in death by father James Harvey Balentine and mother Myrtle Parker, husband, John Hickman Jr., step-great-granddaughter Brooke Shipley, and two brothers, Roy Lee Balentine and James Everett Balentine. She is survived by one son, Danny (Pat) Hickman of Buena Park, and two daughters, Brenda Dias of Crows Landing and Sue (Keith) Ford of Modesto; two grandchildren, Shannon Dias of Crows Landing, and Brandi Boehme of Merced; four step-grandchildren, Sherri Ford and Stacey Ford, both of Vancouver, Wash., Ambre Michelle Van Horn of Chowchilla, Robert Williamson of Orange County; two great-grandchildren, Makyla DaPonte and Michael DaPonte, both of Crows Landing; six step-great-grandchildren, Brittany Ford, Faith Shipley, Jacob Shipley, all of Vancouver, Wash., Jessica Rochester, Rebecca Van Horn, Danielle Van Horn, all of Orange County; four siblings, Eunice Swanson of Hilmar, Thelma Clayton of Fremont, Bob Balentine of Ceres, and Ruby Mayfield of Clarksville, AR; special sister (in-law) LaVerne Balentine of San Leandro and beloved dog and baby, Bebe.
Hillview Funeral Chapel, 450 W. Las Palmas Ave., Patterson is handling the arrangements.