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Friday, May 7, 2021

Remembering Wendell Hicks aka Garfield Rick

Sunrise: September 9, 1951
Sunset: February 25, 2021

Respectfully submitted by By Ted Howard, II, Former Principal at Garfield High School, on behalf of Garfield High School’s extended community

Wendell “Rick” Hicks, we called him Rick

Rick’s Saying. Yes, Rick had a saying. “Who built Garfield. Rick would say I did, how long did it take 20 min, how many bricks did you use he would always say two”.

Born on September 9, 1951 to Odessa Hosper and William Hicks, Rick attended Pacific School in Seattle, Washington.

Rick, started coming around Garfield High School (GHS) in the early nineteen seventies. He would hang out in the Garfield Community Center. This was a different time in the Central Area. The Black community was redlined, and the only high school Blacks could attend was Garfield.

Garfield’s School Gym and the Community Center were housed in the same building. Much like today. Rick would hang out in the lower community center gym. The gym in the community center was very small – so small the out of bounds line for basketball and the wall became one.  There was really no room to stand but people would stand against the wall and hoped they didn’t get hit while they waited for the next game. 

Rick would dribble the ball and shoot on the hoops between the games. As downstairs would close, Rick would continue hanging out at the community center and would make his way upstairs to the school’s part of the gym. 

This is where former Garfield boys’ basketball coach Al Hairston would get the Bulldogs in shape. Rick would hang out and Al allowed him to come into the gym. You see Al had a closed practice. Letting Rick hang out in the gym while Al would put together his plays and develop players was no easy entry. But somehow Rick made the cut. Rick became a staple at the school. He took a liking to the Garfield Bulldogs and the school took to him. It was a big brother and little brother relationship. At times, the relationship would blur the lines to who was looking after who. GHS is like no other school.

The purple power had Rick hooked. Rick soon walked the halls and would attend every sporting event. Many would question what type of transportation did Rick have to get to GHS, and the sporting events. Nobody knew how he did it, but Rick did it day in and day out. Administrators would use Rick in many examples to help students realize the gift of GHS. I recall one story, where Mr. Burrell Garnett, a well-known teacher/administrator in the building, was scolding some of the seniors who were late. “How can Rick get to school on-time and he doesn’t even go here?” Mr. Garnett sternly said to the seniors. You could take the story one of two ways: either you are lazy, or Rick cared more about GHS and understood the gift of being a Bulldog.  As I reflected over time it was both.

I can still recall coming into the office and seeing Rick’s signature on the sign-in sheet as a visitor.  He would always sign-in and out.  Well Rick, your last sign-out February 25.  You will be missed Rick.  Knowing he will be put to rest at the same cemetery as Joe Bland is so poetic.

Rick embraced the spirit of being a Bulldog, and in his memory the Bulldogs will always embrace him. 

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