Honorary Mercer alumna and former Miss America dies at 79

Mercer University honorary alumna Neva Jane Langley Fickling died Nov. 18 at the age of 79. She was an accomplished pianist, a former Miss America and the wife of Mercer Trustee William A. Fickling Jr.
Mrs. Fickling was a longtime Macon arts supporter and community leader. Mercer’s McCorkle Music Building was dedicated in her honor in 2003.
Fickling grew up in Lakeland, Fla. and attended Florida Southern College as a freshman. She transferred to Wesleyan College her sophomore year and majored in piano. In 1952, Fickling was named Miss Macon and went on to be named Miss Georgia. In 1953, she was the only Miss Georgia to be crowned Miss America. Fickling was awarded the title at the age of 19, with piano performance as her talent.
Fickling married in her senior year and graduated from Wesleyan in 1955. She and her husband raised four children.
She was an active member on numerous boards, including Wesleyan College, the Keep America Beautiful Commission, the Macon Symphony Orchestra, the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, the Atlanta Symphony, the Georgia Council of the Arts, the Park City Chamber Music Society, the Junior League of Macon and the advisory board of the Hay House, in addition to others.
“Neva Fickling was the embodiment of grace, talent and leadership,” Mercer President William D. Underwood said. “She was loved by her family, her community and all who supported the arts. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Fickling family during this time of loss.”
Fickling founded the Georgia Women of Achievement, an organization that recognizes women of outstanding achievement in Georgia.
At Mercer’s 2011 May commencement, Fickling was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
“Neva Fickling was a generous supporter of the Townsend School of Music,” said Dr. David Keith, Interim Dean of Townsend School of Music and Director of Graduate Studies. “She loved music and the impact that it had in the lives of people, and the Townsend School of Music will always be grateful for her generosity and gracious spirit.”