Contact Info Subscribe Links


Oct/Nov 2006







queen of stigler

by John Arlon Hawke

To learn more about the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement, call (877) 767-7738.

IF YOU STOOD HER FULL NAME ON EDGE, it would be almost as tall as Mrs. Marion Rebecca (Becky) Dickson Hickman who, at 5' 2" is the best kept secret the Stigler (OK) Chamber of Commerce ever had. The 86-year-old Free Will Baptist minister’s widow tells anybody within hearing distance about the great family place she calls home in east central Oklahoma.

And if anybody knows, Becky Hickman does. After all, she has lived 80 of her 86 years in Stigler—the small town on State Route 9 bounded on the south by the Sans Bois Mountains, and on the north by I-40—less than 50 miles from the Arkansas state line between Keota and Whitefield.

After being declared legally blind in 1995 because of macular degeneration that runs in her family, Becky continued her love affair with Stigler until January 2006 when she moved into an efficiency apartment at a retirement home in Tahlequah.

“I love it here,” she says. “Wonderful people, and I can still attend a Free Will Baptist church. I am so busy now. I’m happy. I attend the Free Will Baptist Worship Center where Eddie Davis pastors. He’s a dynamite preacher!”


Saved and Knew It

Becky was born July 13, 1920. Her mother died when she was two years old. After her mail-carrier dad remarried, Becky grew up in a vibrant family of eight children—some his, some hers, some theirs.

“I’ve had many mothers in the ministry along the way,” she says.

She had a couple of runs at salvation. The second time it worked.

“I went to the altar at age 11, but all I got out of that was wet at the baptism,” she laughs. “When I was 24, I got saved and knew it. I was baptized again, because I knew my salvation was real.”

Handsome Hercel

Becky attended high school in Stigler where she met a handsome 6' 2" football player who weighed 220 pounds, played left guard, and spoke with a deep bass voice. That was Hercel Hickman. His dad (Bob Hickman) was a Free Will Baptist minister.

“I fell in love with him the minute I saw him,” she giggles. “He would wink at me, and I knew he loved me too.” Becky and Hercel married in 1940 when she was 19 and he 22.

Hercel’s football skills attracted the eye of a young coach named Paul “Bear” Bryant, who drove to Oklahoma and recruited the big Okie for his Alabama Crimson Tide team. Hercel played one year at Alabama, then joined the Navy in World War II.


Mission to Arizona

Hercel Hickman was not a preacher when he and Becky married. The company where he worked began searching for copper in Arizona, and Hercel flew back to Stigler every weekend to see Becky. They moved to Tucson in the 1950s while he worked in the mines.

An Air Force sergeant had a small group of people meeting in a garage and planned to start a Free Will Baptist church. Two Oklahoma ministers – George McLain and Bob Hickman (Hercel’s dad) – came to Tucson and organized the group into a Free Will Baptist church, the first in Tucson. The church needed a pastor, so Hercel answered the call to preach, which surprised Becky.

“Hercel had never told anyone that he had felt called to preach since he was a young boy,” she reflects. He had not surrendered to preach earlier because it appeared he was not needed . . . until we got to Arizona.

“His mother was not surprised, however. When she first held Hercel in her arms, she looked down at him and said, ‘This is my son that will preach,’ and she had never told anyone.”

The Tucson church grew, bought a building, won a Mormon family to the Lord, and made a difference in the community.

Home to Stigler

Becky and Hercel returned to Oklahoma in 1959 where for the next 28½ years, they pastored Cross Roads FWB Church in Stigler. Hercel resigned as pastor after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1987. He died in 1992.

“What great people we had in the church,” Becky says. “I remember the support from all those praying saints and the good spirit in our services.”


Retirement Advice

Hercel Hickman was the second person to take an annuity with the Board of Retirement, which means Becky now gets an annuity check every month to help with her living expenses.

“I encourage young ministers and their wives to do what they can toward setting aside retirement funds,” Becky says. “Then when retirement gets here, make sure you have a place to keep attending services.”

June McLain Rolen, former WNAC president and long-time friend of the Hickmans, said, “Becky has always been such a loving and caring person. She loves people and has such a great sense of humor.”

Looking back on her eight decades in Stigler, Becky says, “I’m now legally blind, have two artificial knees, a pacemaker, and my hearing aid is in the shop! But I’ve had a wonderful life. I’ve loved it all. Most of my life (80 years) has been lived in Stigler, and I would not change a thing.”

Maybe that’s why the short lady with the big personality deserves the title– Queen of Stigler.


About the Writer: John Arlon Hawke is a freelance writer and journalist with a wide range of publishing experience. He currently makes his home just south of Nashville, TN. To find out more about Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement, call toll-free (877) 767-7738.




©2007 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists