In Memoriam: Emily Spencer DeCosta and Janet D. Hicks

The Avery Research Center would like to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of two supporters, Emily Spencer DeCosta and Janet D. Hicks.

Emily Spencer DeCosta was born in 1923 in Washington, D.C. to James Spencer and Evie Carpenter Spencer.  In 1942, Emily received her bachelors degree from Virginia State College; in 1943, she earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan.  She taught English at Virginia State College for three years and while there, she met Herbert A. DeCosta, Jr.

In 1946, Emily married Herbert DeCosta and began working for his construction company as the bookkeeper, office manager, and corporate secretary from 1947 until her retirement in 1985.  Emily and Herbert had two children, Gail Spencer DeCosta and Margaret Craft DeCosta.

Emily DeCosta was active in the Charleston community, serving on the boards of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Charleston Concert Association, and the American Cancer Society.  Among her many commitments, DeCosta was influential in the YWCA of Greater Charleston, Inc.; founder of the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America; leader in The Links, Inc.; and life member of Alpha Kappa Alpa Sorority, Inc.  Emily and Herbert DeCosta were heavily involved in their church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Emily and Herbert DeCosta were strong supporters of the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture and the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture.  They donated the H. A. DeCosta, Jr. Papers, and Emily especially encouraged donations to the DeCosta family papers and the Craft and Crum family papers.

Emily Spencer DeCosta passed away on April 2, 2011.

Janet D. Hicks was born on April 30, 1939 in New York City, New York.  She attended high school in New Jersey and graduated from Central State University in Ohio.  She taught in New Jersey for over three decades and founded and directed the Columbia High School performing dance class.

After retirement, Hicks relocated to Charleston, South Carolina.  She generously donated her family materials to the Avery Research Center: the Hicks and Steele family papers.

Janet Hicks passed away on March 26, 2011.

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