William James Hickerson died peacefully in the early hours of Friday, September 13th. He was much loved by his three sons and their families – John & Alison with grandsons Keith (Chantale) and Neil (Claire); James & Donna with granddaughter Amalia ; Glen & Penny with grandson Aaron (Allie & great grandson Xavier) and granddaughter Lauren (Ethan).
Bill grew up in a large loving family in Farrington and later Fort Frances, Ontario. His brothers and sisters and their spouses were not only family but his lifelong friends as well. Bill’s life will continue to be celebrated by his sisters Florence, Donna (Willie), Lois, and his brother Frank (Frieda) and sisters-in-law Fae and Mabel as well as numerous beloved nephews and nieces. He was predeceased by wife Elaine, his parents William and Helen, brothers Horace and Ed, and his sisters and brothers-in law: Irene (Felix), Shirley (Les), and Jessie (Merlin) and Murray, and in-laws Jack and Eleanor Paxton.
Bill was a minister of the United Church of Canada from 1957 and in to the 21st Century, through what his family joked was a serial pattern of retirements and returns to his calling in the ministry. Following ministries in Bowsman/Minitonas, Manitoba (’57-‘62), Thunder Bay, ON (’62 – ‘70) and at Riverview United Church in Winnipeg (’70 – ‘76), Bill served as Executive Secretary for the Manitoba and NW Conference (’76 – ‘85). Bill returned to congregational ministry in 1985 at Immanuel United Church until retiring in 1994. After his retirement he remained an active member of the Immanuel Congregation, finding the fellowship of the men’s study group particularly fulfilling. Bill and Elaine took great pleasure in their involvement with the Good Neighbours Active Living Centre and enjoyed the opportunity to sing together in their choir.
Bill was a passionate advocate for those left behind by society. He was an early supporter of rights for LGBTQ people at a time when such a view was unpopular. He worked to build bridges with Canada’s Indigenous people and was proud of his role as Speaker of the All Native Circle Conference of the United Church of Canada.
Bill earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1954 from the University of Manitoba and his Bachelor of Theology in 1957 from United College (now the University of Winnipeg). He earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1973 also from the University of Winnipeg. Bill guided others in their learning journeys at St. Andrew’s College and at the Pastoral Institute at the University of Winnipeg. In 1987, he was awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Divinity (theology) from St. Andrew’s College at the University of Saskatchewan in recognition of his many years of service on its board.
The love of Bill’s life was his wife Elaine. They were married from 1957 to Elaine’s death in 2012. He never stopped missing her and loved her to the end of his days.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on November 16, 2019 at Immanuel United Church (755 Golspie Street, Winnipeg). In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.