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January 3, 2012 > Obituary: Herman Ficklin

Obituary: Herman Ficklin

November 17, 1929 - December 28, 2011

Herman Ficklin passed away on Wednesday, December 28, 2011, after enduring four years of health problems. All of his family had spent the day by his side at Kaiser Hospital Fremont, and his wife was nearby until his final moment.

Herman was born on November 17, 1929, in Leake County, Mississippi, to Asberry Ficklin, Sr., and Lona Black Ficklin. He was the oldest of four brothers.

Attempting to make a better life for their family, Herman's parents moved with him and his brothers out of the segregated South to Richmond, California.

Herman dreamed of joining the U.S. Marine Corps. While attending Berkeley High, he suffered a spinal-cord injury in a sandlot football game that brought his dream to a halt. Herman then had to face intense physical therapy, completing high school and beyond in a wheelchair.

After getting an associate's degree from Contra Costa Junior College, he forged ahead at the University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and then eventually earned his MBA from Cal State University, Hayward (now Cal State East Bay).

Herman married his wife Jean in 1963, and they moved with her four children to Newark, California. The family was originally supposed to move to Hayward. Due to discriminatory practices in a real estate office, the family instead ended up in Newark and became one of the first black families to ever live in the city.

He was a professional employment representative at Lockheed Missiles and Space (now Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co.) in Sunnyvale, retiring after 33 years. Herman was ambitious, astute and determined in his work. It was at Lockheed where he mentored many employees. As a retiree, he enjoyed lunch gatherings with his colleagues.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Herman was actively involved with Indoor and Good Sports Club, where he served as treasurer, and Western Disabled Alliance. Western Disabled Alliance's primary goal was to eliminate architectural barriers in public places.

In later years, he supported the Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society, Cal State East Bay's School of Business and the UC Berkeley Library Fund. It was a joy for him to assist students financially so that they could excel and pursue a career. He was also proud to have fulfilled his mother's dream of succeeding in life despite growing up in segregation, even though she didn't live to celebrate that dream with him.

In Newark, where he lived for 48 years, Herman worshipped at First Presbyterian Church of Newark, and he supported the Newark Arts Council and Afro-American Cultural and Historical Society.

Herman was preceded in death by his devoted parents; one brother, Lanier Ficklin; a grandson, Kevin Green; and a daughter, Aurelia Jeannette Ricard.

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