1913 - 2013
Decorated World War II veteran Hickey dies at 100
George Hickey, a native Nevadan who grew up in Douglas County, died recently at the age of 100.
Hickey, a decorated veteran of World War II, lived his life with a strong work ethic, said son Pat Hickey of Reno, the Assembly minority leader at the Nevada Legislature. George Hickey did ranch work with the Park Cattle Company, located in Minden, until he was 90, his son said.
“Like a lot of World War II vets, he had a lot of catching up to do (when he came back from the war),” Pat Hickey said. “His life was defined by work.”
George Hickey owned an ice business and also started a garbage business in South Lake Tahoe. He owned a heating oil business at the same time, according to his son. “I remember he delivered oil to (baseball great) Ty Cobb when he lived at the lake,” Pat Hickey said. “He was a postmaster in South Lake Tahoe, and he did all of these things after he came back from World War II.”
In World War II, Hickey fought to keep open the Burma Road and Burma railroad, despite many attacks by the Japanese. Yet, George Hickey also was a man of peace, helping negotiate an isolated peace with the Japanese at war’s end.
“He told me this story that how at the end of the war, there was so little communication between them and Washington and the Japanese and Tokyo that they (Allies and Japanese) actually kind of made their own little peace with the Japanese on the other side of the river,” Pat Hickey said. “They were trading whiskey and goods near the end of the war. They were so far from the front that they stopped fighting on their own.”
George Hickey was deeply moved by the poverty he saw in Asia during World War II, his son said.
“It impacted him,” Pat Hickey said. “He was one of the ‘Greatest Generation.’ He didn’t talk a lot (about the war) but did when he was asked.”
George Hickey will also be remembered as a caring father.
“He coached Little League and Babe Ruth (baseball) at the lake. He had four businesses, and I started to work for him at the ice house when I was 9,” his son said.
George Hickey taught his son the value of hard work. It was a lesson George Hickey followed almost to his final day.
“When he turned 100, he said, ‘I’m just sorry that I can’t work anymore,’” Pat Hickey said. “At our house, he would try to rake and take care of the animals. He worked at the ranch until he was 90.”
Upon Hickey’s death, Gov. Brian Sandoval said: “George Hickey was a decorated World War II veteran, having served in the Army as a master sergeant, where he was decorated for his service along the Burma Highway with a Bronze Star. ... Most importantly, however, George Hickey was a beloved father and grandfather and he will be missed. Kathleen and I are keeping Pat, his wife Shin and their children in our thoughts and prayers.”