Kirksey Funeral Home

406 Lenoir Road, Morganton, NC


Herbert Leon Pickell Jr.

July 19, 1934September 2, 2020

No funeral service will be provided but grave site and virtual memorial services will be set up at later times.

Herbert Leon Pickell, Jr., 86, died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his family, around 7:45 PM, Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at his home in Morganton, NC. He was born July 19, 1934 in Somerville, New Jersey. He was married on February 12, 1988 to Cindy Decker-Pickell, by whom he is survived.

He is also survived by his sons, Herbert (Bert) Pickell, III, of Indianapolis, IN and Davin Pickell of Madison, WI (from his first marriage, to Carol Ann Pickell, also of Indianapolis); one granddaughter, Elizabeth Robbins of Brooklyn, NY; his sisters Elizabeth Merring of Belvidere, NJ and Mary Lou (Ed) Nelson of Westampton, NJ; and one dear family friend, Rudolph Croom, Jr., of Kinston, NC, who Herb considered to be his third son.

He was preceded in death by his loving parents, Elizabeth and Herbert Pickell, Sr.

Herb could accomplish anything he set his mind to. When he was born with kniest dysplasia, a doctor warned that he would never be able to walk or to accomplish anything in his life. With his dear mother’s encouragement and support, he proceeded to prove the doctor wrong, excelling in school, and graduating from Gallaudet College, and subsequently earning his Masters’ degree in Education from the University of Virginia. Over the decades of his career, he served as an advocate for deaf rights and accessibility, becoming a well-known leader in the Deaf community nationwide.

Herb worked for more than 40 years, starting in 1957 as a counselor of boys, and woodworking instructor at Lutheran School for the Deaf in Detroit, Michigan; Elementary Woodworking Instructor, Track Coach, and Dorm Counselor at Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton, Virginia; Field Account at his father’s concrete business in Mt. Holly, NJ; Counselor and Academic Instructor at Michigan Association for Better Hearing and Speech in East Lansing, MI; Executive Director/Counselor/ Social Worker at Deaf and Hard of Hearing Counseling in Wichita, KS; Coordinator of Expanded Services for the Deaf Project at Vocational Rehabilitation Center of Allegheny County in Pittsburgh, PA; Vocational Rehabilitation Specialist for the Deaf at Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Center in Johnstown, PA; Agency Director at National Fraternal Society of the Deaf in Mt. Prospect, IL; Director of State Service Bureau for the Deaf in Madison, WI; Director of Office for Hearing Impaired, Bureau for Sensory Disabilities, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation in Madison, WI; Program Administrator at Telecommunications Access for Communicative-Impaired Persons Board in St. Paul, MN and Executive Director of Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. in Tallahassee, FL. The number of individuals and organizations he served and supported are vast.

Herb was loved dearly by people wherever he went. His sense of humor and his courageous advocacy will not soon be forgotten.

Family, especially his sons, and the Boston Red Sox were Herb’s passions and brought him much delight.

Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be sent to National Association of the Deaf, of which he was involved for 5 decades and served in various roles including board member.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Herbert Leon Pickell Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Peggy (Reed) Anderson

September 10, 2020

I am so sorry for your loss. He was a kind loving man.

Jennifer Furlano

September 8, 2020

Herb, you were a very gentle person in mind and soul. When you first greeted me at WSD, I was marvelous by your kindness and abundant of sense of humor and I enjoyed talking to you. You knew my mother. Oh, and I enjoyed getting know Cindy as well. Your energy is within us, and soon we join in one. Cindy, stay strong in mind and soul. I’m thinking of you all.

Natalie DiVito-Standriff

September 6, 2020

Cindy and Family,

We're a truly sorry for your loss of Beloved Herbert Pickell Jr.
He was a great man. We had a great times with him and Cindy.
Our hearts go out to him, Family and Friends.

Kevin and Natalie Standriff

Carolyn brick

September 6, 2020

Herb was one of my friends at Gallaudet that provided me with joy and enjoyment of college life. His sense of humor helped to refine mine as we sat around in the snack bar and teased each other. I am sad to know that I will never meet him again at some deaf affair or other but grateful that I had a chance to know him at an important period of my life. - Carolyn Brick (nee Bateman)

Nancy Harbison

September 5, 2020

My condolences to you my dear friend Cindy and family. It has been a honor to be in your wedding and many fond memories when you lived in Wisconsin. Always appreciate both of you with your many years of advocate service and the good fun times & Herb always bring good laugh . Rest in Peace . Love to you Cindy.
Nancy Harbison.

Deborah Decket

September 5, 2020

I can still remember the night that we brought a Wolverine 750 four-wheeler to the house and you had so much fun riding it around your property in Bailey. North Carolina. We had so much fun that night and I loved the look on your face when you took off riding it for the very first time. I will never forget you Herb. You have been a loving husband to Cindy for so many years and I will surely miss you. Rest well now, dear brother-in-law, for your time on this Earth is now over but your time in heaven is forever. God bless you for everything you accomplished in your life. You will never be forgotten and someday you will be reunited with your beautiful wife and
my sister in heaven once again.

Fran Burns

September 5, 2020

I will never forget Herb that he hired me to work at FTRI and moved my family to Tallahassee. That meant lot to me that he hired me after his wife, Cindy(first time we met her at deaf service center) told me to see Herb about job opening. We had a good memories about him and his wife, Cindy!

Cindy and family, we are sorry for your loss of beloved Herb and may he rest in peace!
Fran and John

Cecil Bradley

September 5, 2020

Wonderful memories getting to know Herb and Cindy when both lived in Tallahassee for several years and were neighbors of ours, before moving to NC. At that time, Herb was Executive Director of newly formed Florida Telecommunications Relay Inc. We worked together to promote better services for Deaf, HH, and Deafblind in FL in the early 1990's. Rest in peace, Herb.

James Walcott

September 5, 2020

He is such a very nice person to the world and I pray his gentle soul rest in perfect peace and his children will be blessed in Jesus name

Kelby Brick

September 5, 2020

I met Herb at the beginning of my career and Herb was approaching the end of his. He took the time to take me under his wings, provide me with advice and tease me up with his wonderfully dry humor. His compassion, intellect and kindness will be with me always. His commitment to and love for the Deaf community will always be remembered.

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