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Terry Hicks, who 'had Flat Rock in his heart,' dies at 81

Terry Hicks and his wife, Christine, at the Park at Flat Rock, which Hicks worked to support. Terry Hicks and his wife, Christine, at the Park at Flat Rock, which Hicks worked to support.

Terry Hicks, a key leader in the formation and development of the Village of Flat Rock from the mid-1990s through the creation of its popular park, died on Friday at his home after a period of failing health, Flat Rock village officials said. He was 81.
Hicks, who retired to Flat Rock in 1992 after a career as a book publisher and seller, served as mayor from 1999 to 2003 but his time serving his retirement home spanned almost 25 years.
Hicks became involved in Flat Rock‘s civic affairs as soon as he arrived and before the village incorporated in 1995. He worked on the project to bring water and sewer to the Flat Rock Playhouse and other parts of town and helped draft the first zoning ordinance.
As the second mayor, “he led us through the process of moving from the Singleton Centre to where we are today,” said Judy Boleman, who served with Hicks on the village council and is now the village administrator. “He was also instrumental in finding people to run for council who had special areas of expertise.”
When the village was writing the first land-use code, someone mentioned a Hendersonville native who had spent a career in real estate law in Northern Virginia. The village founders recruited Bob Staton to serve on the Planning Board. A couple of year later, Staton found himself on the receiving end of Hicks’s famously effective one-on-one sales pitches. Hicks wanted Staton to serve on the village council.
“I didn’t want to do that but after he asked me about six times I finally agreed that I would,” Staton said. After Ray Shaw signaled his retirement as mayor in 2007, Hicks recruited Staton to run for mayor.
“I absolutely didn’t want to do that,” he said. “Then he had a heart attack and I went to visit him. He was sitting up in the hospital bed and Christine was sitting at his side and he pointed his finger at me and said, ‘Will you run for mayor?’ I said, well, I’d have to think about it, and he said how long would I need. I said, ‘About 10 seconds’ and he sat there and counted to 10.”
Hicks’s wife, Christine, was not surprised.
“He was soft spoken and very kind and very gentle but he always got his way in the kindest way possible,” she said. “He was a very loving man. He loved his family, he loved Flat Rock.”

Besides his wife, Hicks is survived by three daugters, two of whom live overseas. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

After he gave up the mayor’s gavel, Hicks agreed to run for a seat on the council in his district, serving four more years. Most recently, Hicks has been a passionate supporter of the Park at Flat Rock, helping to form its fundraising arm and recruiting an old friend from the Children and Family Resource Center, Maurean Adams, to run it.
“He was one of the founding members of the Flat Rock Park and Recreation Foundation,” Staton said. “It was his idea to establish that and he was one of the first directors.”
“He was carrying the major load before they hired Maurean and found Myra (Grant),” a grant writer, Boleman said. “I’m not sure the foundation would have developed as quickly as it did and it might not have developed at all without him.”
A native of Texas, Hicks grew up in Louisiana and graduated from Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss.
There he met a younger underclassman, Albert Gooch, who worked on the student newspaper. The two would meet in a coffee shop, where Hicks would critique Gooch’s column “and tell me how it could have been better and what he ageed with and disagreed with.”
As student manager of the book store, Hicks showed an early aptitude for selling.
“He got a good start,” Gooch said. “If you went in there to try to buy a used textbook, he’d try like the devil to sell you a new one.”
Gooch and Hicks went their separate ways, only to run into one another one summer day at the Flat Rock Ice Cream Social. Hicks had another mark. He recruited Gooch to serve on the council.
Gooch, a retired successful fundraiser himself, admires Hicks’s devotion to the Park at Flat Rock and the foundation, which has raised about $1 million for park improvements. After serving for years on the Planning Board, as mayor and on the village council, Hicks still visited village hall and worked with Adams on park fundraising.
“He never ever forgot Flat Rock,” Gooch said. “He was always available. He was a good friend. I’m certainly going to miss him. He always had a smile.”
In addition to his work with the village, Hicks served for many years on the board of the Children and Family Resource Center, where he established a scholarship for young single moms; and on the Board of Health, where he served as chair.
“He loves to hear jokes and he loves to send them around,” said Staton, who called his friend “an all-around good guy.” “I’m sorry that will end … Terry had Flat Rock in his heart.”