Howard B. Hitchens, Jr., age 94, of Ocean View, Delaware, passed peacefully on Monday, January 21, 2019 at the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford, Delaware. Poetically, Howard was born in Milford, Delaware in 1924 and graduated with honors from Milford High School. He received a B.A. from the University of Delaware; an M.A. from Columbia University in New York in 1951; and his PhD from Syracuse University in 1961.
He lived a life of profound grace and service as a distinguished member of The Greatest Generation, drafted into World War II as an Army Air Corps Navigator until 1946. He returned from WWII to complete his U. of D. studies, kept a Reserve Commission, married the beautiful Verda Ruth “Vidge” Vane from Harrington, Delaware in 1949, and began a family with the birth of his son, Howard B. “Skip” Hitchens, III in 1950. The family moved to New York City where he received his masters degree in speech and communications from Columbia University.
In 1952, Howard was recalled for the Korean War, leaving his then pregnant wife and young son Skip in Wilmington, Delaware. His plane was shot down in October 29, 1952. His second son Sean O’Casey Hitchens was born on November 19, 1952. He was declared MIA and was a prisoner of war In Korea for eleven months until being repatriated during Operation Big Switch, returning to a great reunion with his family and new son on September 10, 1953.
Howard continued his 26-year military career beginning at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, California teaching navigation and doing public relations for the Air Force when his daughter Martha Melissa Hitchens was born in 1955. He then joined the new administration at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado as the Academy was being built. He was among the first faculty at the Academy serving as director of the Audio Visual department.
Upon retiring from the Air Force in 1969 as a Lieutenant Colonel, he moved his family to Washington, D.C. where he worked as an executive director in the world of educational communications and technology. In 1983, he and Vidge retired to Millville, Delaware and their southern Delaware families and extraordinary family of friends. He lived his life with great pride, as a true gentleman, a loyal friend, and a lifelong tennis player.
Howard B. Hitchens, Jr. is preceded in death by Vidge, his wife of forty-one years in 1990; his son Skip; his son Sean; his sister Mary Ann Richards; and his wonderful second wife, Joan E. “Jonnie” Hitchens who died early last year. He is survived by his daughter Melissa Hitchens Mulrooney and only grandson, Sean O’Casey Hitchens, Jr.; his nephew Christopher M. Vane; his nephew Walt Richards, and nieces Dee Richards and Mary Ann Richards; along with his step-children, Pamela England Hauserman; Ellen England Adkins; Clyde S. England; and many grand children.
Private services will be held at a later date. Tribute contributions may be made to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT 06903. Arrangements by Lofland Funeral Home, Milford, DE. Letters of condolence may be sent to the family at www.loflandandmcknatt.com.