George Hickman, one of the few surviving Tuskegee Airmen, and a longtime usher at University of Washington athletic events and press box attendant at Seahawks games, died on Sunday. He was 88.
Hickman’s death prompted a wave of condolences among local sports figures. Always humble and always smiling, he was beloved among local sports fans and media members alike.
“I was just doing my duty to the best of my ability, to be the best that I could be” Hickman said of his experience fighting in World War II. “And I loved it and enjoyed it. And I wanted to get over there and stop Germans from being over here.'
Hickman, who admitted to having been spit on while in uniform because of his race, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal with other Tuskegee Airmen in 2007. In 2009, he attended the inauguration of President Barack Obama at Obama’s invitation. Husky athletic staff raised funds for Hickman’s trip.
“He was such a phenomenal man,” said Washington basketball coach Lorenzo Romar. “Just knowing that he really made a difference and was a pioneer and set a great example for the youth today.”
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian sent out messages of condolence via Twitter. “
“He represented the UW and the Tuskegee Airmen with class,” wrote Sarkisian. “I will always appreciate how he treated my family.”