Capt. Pickens has made his last aircraft carrier landing. He has sung his last song with his barbershop quartet. He has made his last long curling putt. He died at 1:30 p.m., on Tuesday, February 21, 2023. He passed, satisfied with his life, proud of his personal accomplishments, and his service to his country.
He was proceeded in death by his wife of 52 years, Joan Clair (Nachtigall) (B-1929 & D-2005), the love of his life and the mother of his two children, Melody Susan Pickens and James Arthur Pickens.
He was born in Sturgis, MI to Odessa I. (Beach) Pickens and James Arthur Pickens on 29 Aug. 1929, ushering in the Great Depression. The family moved when he was 5 years old to Ft. Wayne IN and remained there. Captain Pickens attended grade schools in the Ft. Wayne area, North Side High School Class of ’47 and Indiana/Purdue at Ft. Wayne. After earning his degree, he entered the Navy in 1951, was sent to Pensacola, FL, where he earned his wings of gold and was designated a naval aviator. He retired in 1975 after 25 years of active duty in many squadrons, on many aircraft carriers and naval air stations. Proud of the rank (O-6) he attained, he always said he loved the Navy and the Navy loved him. He also claimed to be the World’s Greatest Aviator. His squadron mates knew that wasn’t true. Maybe in the top ten percent, but certainly not the World’s Greatest.
Upon retirement, he moved his family into a waterfront home they had built on Fleming Island on the St. Johns River. For 30 years they lived their dream. Finally, father time forced them to move into a CCRC named Fleet Landing, where they lived out their lives in style.
His Memorial Service will be at 2:00 p.m., Monday, March 20, 2023 at Fleet Landing, Atlantic Beach, Florida.