A'La Perle's obituary

A’La Perle Ashley Hickman, age 99, passed away peacefully at the Place at Shadow Oaks Assisted Living Community, Aiken, SC, June 29, 2020. She is the youngest of nine children born in Trenton, SC to Robert and Mary Boughknight Ashley. She was predeceased by her sisters Ethel Lewis, Emma Ryan, Lucie Robinson, Estelle Ashley, and brothers, Richard, Booker T., Robert and Pernell Ashley.

Perle, as she was known to family and friends, became a lifelong member of Mount Canaan Baptist Church, Trenton, SC in 1933. She graduated with honors from Bettis Academy and Junior College in 1939. She was a charter member of Psi Alpha Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority at South Carolina State University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1942 and where she met her husband, the late Alton Hickman. Christian values coupled with a desire to learn, a belief in service and commitment to improving the lives of others shaped Perle’s life.

Alton and Perle began marriage in Conway SC in 1946. She shared her passion for learning with students in the classrooms of Horry County Schools for over ten years before appointment as Principal of Whittemore Elementary School in Conway for nine years. There were always good memories and great stories of the Conway years.

While working in Conway, she finished a Master’s degree in Education at Temple University and completed additional studies at North Carolina Central University in School Administration and Library Science. Changing careers and returning to Aiken in 1967, Perle worked with the Aiken County Public School Libraries for 16 years until her 1983 retirement.

Retirement only meant a different schedule. Perle volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, Alston Wilkes Society, Bettis Academy Heritage Corridor Team, and held leadership roles with American Association of University Women and Church Women United. Perle led Bible studies. She was an active member of Iota Lamba Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. supporting the Storks Nest, a program encouraging healthy behavior during pregnancy. She worked with kids at Mount Canaan Baptist Church and Friendship Baptist Church summer enrichment programs. She researched her family genealogy, studied horticulture, gardened and traveled the world from China to the Caribbean. She adored her family and would drive all over the USA to attend graduations, weddings and other special family events.

Perle is survived by her nieces Ethel Ala Perle Lewis Malone, (Philadelphia, PA), Mildred Ryan Smith, (Charlotte, NC) Rose Marie Ryan Harrison, (Charlotte, NC) Estella Marie Ashley Moore, (Orangeburg, SC) Gwendolyn Ashley, (Marlborough, MA), Carolyn Ashley (Robert) Eberhardt, (Miami, FL) LaLita (Gary Reynolds) Ashley, Aiken, SC and nephews Fredrick Lewis, (Philadelphia, PA), William W. (Glenda) Ashley, MD, (Olympia Falls, IL) and William W. (Beverly) Ashley, (Ladson, SC). She is also survived by numerous great-nieces and nephews, great-great nieces and nephews, cousins, and friends.

Expressions of sympathy may be made in her memory to: Iota Lambda Zeta Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. for The A’La Perle Hickman Scholarship Fund, (P.O. Box 3253, Aiken, SC 29802) established in 2011 to provide scholarships to African American women in Aiken and Edgefield counties.

The family is so very grateful to the staff and administration from The Place at Shadow Oaks Assisted Living Community, Cumberland Village, Regency Hospice, Lillie Ford and Shawndae Drake for the love and comfort afforded Aunt Perle over the past years.

A viewing will be held on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 from 3 PM - 6 PM at the funeral home. Interment will be private. MILLER'S FUNERAL HOME, 136 Kershaw St., SE - Aiken, SC 29801 - (803) 649-2055 - www.millersfuneralhome.net

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