Margaret Sickels

Obituary of Margaret Hines Sickels

Margaret Hines Sickels, a resident of Fairfax, Virginia, died peacefully in her sleep, on June 19, 2019, at the age of 91. She is survived by her son, Stephen and her daughter-in-law Elizabeth Lemersal, of Vienna, Virginia.


She was the daughter of John Emmett Hines and Ella Mary Hines, and the sister of Mary Louise Hines and John Emmett Hines, Jr., all predeceased.


She was born on September 29, 1927, in Suffolk, Virginia. Following her childhood in Suffolk, she earned a B.A. at Mary Washington College and an M.S. and Ph.D. at Northwestern University in the biological sciences. In 1959, she began a long career of helping to instill in her many students an appreciation and knowledge of biology – and of the wonders and beauty of our natural world. She held positions at the University of Vermont, Copin State Teacher’s College, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the College of Wooster, and the University of Illinois. In 1962, she moved to Hyattsville, Maryland, and began a twenty-four-year tenure with Montgomery College in Takoma Park, Maryland, charing the Department of Biology for eleven years beginning in 1967. Throughout, she was full of encouragement and a passion for her students’ learning and advancement. She retired from teaching in 1986, but quickly took up a part-time position as an Assistant Editor for the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Washington, D.C., a position she held into the 1990s.


She held a lifelong passion for travelling and took full advantage of opportunities to explore the world: Iceland, Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica, Mount Rainer, Alaska, the Czech Republic, to name just a few. Many travels were focused on birding – another lifelong passion – as well as on music, nature, and learning, in all forms.


She also volunteered as an usher at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. And later as an information desk staffer at the National Gallery of Art – for which she plumbed the depths of the Gallery’s holdings and exhibitions, all to provide knowledgeable and useful guidance for anyone who approached her desk. At the University of Maryland, she worked with graduate students for whom English was not a first language, helping them to edit and refine their research papers.


In 2002, she moved to the Virginian Continuing Care Retirement Community in Fairfax Virginia, where she made numerous friends – residents, and staff – and continued her lifelong passion for getting outside and enjoying and appreciating nature.


Margaret’s ashes will be scattered in the Memorial Grove at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax, Virginia, a beautiful and peaceful wooded setting, as she wished.


Memorial donations in memory of Margaret may be made to either the Audubon Naturalist Society (ANS) of Chevy Chase, Maryland (, or the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fairfax (UUCF), Virginia (

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