Barbara Magrath’s sister Ruth introduced her to Kempton Hicks Jr. shortly after he returned from the Korean War. The couple dated and in less than a year they married on Nov. 2, 1952. Together for 68 years, they died nine days apart.
Kempton died on Nov. 8. Barbara on Nov. 17. He was 90. She was 89. They are side by side at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton. Kempton was born April 30, 1930. Barbara was born March 12, 1931.
“They were just the epitome of true love,” said granddaughter Tara O’Connor. “They were just both wonderful people who I never heard anyone say a bad word about. I’m glad they are as they wanted to. It’s a big loss but they are at peace.”
An Inwood native, Kempton graduated from Lawrence High School and enlisted in the Marines in 1948. His four years of service included the Korean War where he took part in the assault and capture of Inchon in 1950, and then the seizure of Seoul. He also was a part of Wonsan and Hungnam/Chosin campaigns in northern Korea and in south-central Korea. In Wonsan, he served with the Navy in a successful blockade of that port city.
In Hungnam/Chosin, United Nations forces led by the Unites States military were surrounded and outnumbered at the Chosin Reservoir, when China entered the war. Hicks and U.N. forces broke through the Chinese lines and evacuated the Hungnam port; another turning point in the war. Hicks and others who participated in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir were nicknamed the “Chosin Few.” Retuning stateside in 1951, he was a Marine recruiter then discharged in 1952.
Hicks attended Adelphi University for eight years at night and earned a degree in accounting. He became a certified public accountant and after 40 years he retired. “It was a surprise to be honored,” Hicks said at a 2015 ceremony honoring veterans. “I had a great experience serving and remember it well. I always want to help my fellow servicemen and women.”
Barbara grew up in Cambria Height, Queens, and became a registered nurse, a 40-year career beginning at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Far Rockaway (now St. John’s Episcopal Hospital), South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside (now Mount Sinai South Nassau) and then for the Lawrence School District. In retirement, she volunteered with Literacy Volunteers of America and taught English to second-language learners.
The couple lived in Cedarhurst for half a century, had three children and were active members of St. Paul’s Parish, a Methodist church in Inwood, for more than 50 years. In 2012, they moved to Woodmere.
A son, Kempton Hicks III, predeceased his parents in 2015. They are survived by his wife Dorothy, their daughters Caryn, and her husband Stephen Codoluto; and Patricia and her husband James O’Connor; and grandchildren Dafina, Makini and Stephen, Danny and Nicole, and Shannon, James and Tara.
Kempton’s funeral service was at Meserole Five Towns Funeral Home. The family held a small, private graveside service for Barbara.
Woodmere neighbor Beth Rudetsky remembered Kempton as a “strong, happy and lovely person,” who took care of his wife. “I really liked him,” she said, “he always said hello to me and my dogs and held the door for us.”