Many people don’t know who George Hickamn or have never met him. They may not even have known who he was as they passed by him at a Husky football or hoops game.
He often worked in the press box or was around it. In a room full of cynics and pessimists, he was beacon of kindness and enthusiasm and optimism. Soft spoken and always smiling, he loved to shake people’s hands and simply ask how they were doing.
On Sunday, he passed away. And the world is far worse off without him.
But Hickman was more than usher. He was an American hero. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, an engineer at Boeing and a true success story.
From Dave Boling’s column on it …
The smiling gentleman with the warm handshake and unwavering positive attitude is an example that you may never realize the heroes that are among you.
Hickman is among the surviving Tuskegee Airmen and shared with them the Congressional Gold Medal for his service. He was a special invitee to the Obama inauguration in January 2009.
Consider him an American success story. His grandmother was the 33rd child of a Tennessee slavemaster. His father fought in a segregated infantry unit in World War I, bringing home three bullet holes in his legs from trench battles against the Germans at places such as Argonne and Chateau-Thierry.
As early as Hickman could remember, his father would take him to the edge of Lambert Field in St. Louis to watch airplanes. The science and mystery of flight entranced him, and the passion that rooted with model planes he bought with paper-boy money grew into a lifelong career.
Now almost 70 years later, he recalls his early flights after enlisting in the segregated pilot training program at Tuskegee, Ala.
“There was nothing better in the world,” he said. “In that biplane, the guy wires between the wings were like musical instruments.”
Jim Caple of ESPN had this story on him.
Wow. Really going to miss George Hickman. He was one of the most inspirational men that I have ever met.— Lorenzo Romar (@CoachRomar) August 20, 2012
George Hickman will be missed. He represented the UW and the Tuskegee Airmen with class. I will always appreciate how he treated my family.— Steve Sarkisian (@CoachSark) August 20, 2012
RIP George Hickman.. He literally took my hand & prayed for me b4 EVERY home game I played in at UW!!! A GREAT person that I looked up to..— Isaiah Thomas (@Isaiah_Thomas2) August 20, 2012