June 16, 2010 – If someone stumbled into the Anna L. Lumpkin Auditorium June 11, they may have mistaken the Fort Valley gathering to be of solemn purpose. The community honored a local legend much like the way family and friends do when someone dies, but the man recognized is very much alive.
For more than two hours Fort Valley State University employees, county commissioners, city council officials, local residents and three rows of family members gathered for an event to honor Dr. Ira Hicks, a man known for his service as a Peach County Commissioner and educator for Fort Valley State and three Georgia school systems.
Before a processional to the unveiling of a street sign that now reads “Ira Hicks Boulevard,” 11 speakers addressed the crowd of more than 100 people.
“We’re here to celebrate, to honor a good man,” said FVSU President Dr. Larry E. Rivers, a presenter. “Hicks’ family and extended family, you have a lot to be proud of. I truly believe that we should give honor and flowers to people while they are living so they can enjoy knowing that people believed in them and that people believed in what they have done and are still doing.”
Presenters, which also included state Rep. Lynmore James, former state Rep. Robert Ray, Fort Valley Mayor John Stumbo and Peach County Commission Chairman Martin H. Moseley Jr., used adjectives such as honorable, honest and dedicated to describe the Macon County native.
Hicks returned the favor by spending more than 15 minutes giving thanks to each ceremony speaker. The spruce 82-year-old hopped up the stage’s steps in cowboy boots as the crowd offered a second standing ovation and then he addressed the audience.
“Service is the rent that one pays for living. That’s a statement that I have made for a number of years and I really believe that a person has the opportunity to serve if he pleases or she pleases,” Hicks said. “I think if a person doesn’t serve, then that person is behind on his rent to life.”
Hicks also thanked his wife, Annie, of 60 years and expressed sentiments about the occasion. “I am happy. I’m elated. I am thrilled over the fact that this road is being named for me – Ira Hicks,” he said.
The Peach County Board of Commissioners and Fort Valley City Council signed proclamations recently to change the street name from University Boulevard. Dr. Melvin E. Walker Jr., the Peach County Commissioner who made the motion in a board meeting to change the street name, had no shortage of jokes as the event’s master of ceremony.
Ayanna McPhail, publications editor/writer
Fort Valley State University
College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology
(478) 825-6345 or (478) 825-6079