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August 20, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Remembering George Hickman

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UPDATED: 9:56 p.m.
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar began Monday’s press conference talking about George Hickman, who was an usher at Washington and Seahawks games.
Mr. Hickman, a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, was a beloved figure behind the scenes for decades. He died over the weekend at age 88.
“He’s definitely one of those guys you wish you could have seen him one more time before he left us,” Romar said. “Talk about a guy who leaves everyone he comes in contact with feeling a little bit better that was George Hickman.”
Personally I’ll miss the many conversations I had with Mr. Hickman. He was awesome. Just really, really awesome.
He was one of the first people I saw when walking into the press box for Seahawks or UW football games. He was also stationed near the UW lockerroom during men’s basketball games.
Every time we saw each other, Mr. Hickman greeted me with a strong handshake, a warm smile and said: “It’s so good to see you here.”
I’d ask him how he was feeling and he never said more than two words about his health even when there were times when I know he wasn’t doing well.
What I loved most were the stories he shared about this country and when things much different than what they are today. Those stories were like gold and Mr. Hickman gave freely. If you had the time, he would fill it with rich accounts in great detail about growing up the grandson of slaves in St. Louis.
Mr. Hickman told me about his short time in the segregated pilot training program in Tuskegee, Ala. He dreamed about flying combat missions in World War II, but never got the chance because he said bigoted white superior officers barred him from advancing in the program.
Never once did I hear an ounce of regret, remorse or bitterness in his voice. He simply told the story as if reading from a book. He would tell me to watch out for this or that. I took it as grandfatherly advice from a man who had seen things most of us will never witness.
He loved sports, but he loved people even more. He often reminded me, the games are important, but the people in sports are far more interesting. Mr. Hickman was one of those interesting people.
I spent most of the day trying to remember the stories he told.
I’m grateful for those conversations, glad Mr. Hickman took time to share his experiences with me.
He will be missed.
Photo credit: Associated Press – Elaine Thompson

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