William Charles (Chuck) Hickerson Jr. passed away peacefully on Sept. 24, 2021. He was 98 years old.
Chuck was born July 5, 1923, in Tacoma, Wash., and raised in Tonasket, Wash., graduating from Tonasket High School in 1941. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 20, 1941.
He spent four years serving as a gunner on Merchant Marine ships including the SS Jupiter, the SS Ewing Young, the SS Horace Mann, the SS Mexican, the SS Perote, and the SS Appleton Victory. He saw action in many theaters of the war and received Campaign Medals for the Asiatic-Pacific, American, and European-African-Middle East Areas. He also received the Good Conduct and WWII Victory Medals. He was honorably discharged on Dec. 11, 1945.
After his discharge, Chuck attended Lewis and Clark College, graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree. He continued his education for many years, earning a Master’s degree from Willamette University in 1969.
Chuck met the love of his life, Joyce Anna Gillen, while attending college and they married on June 6, 1949, in Linnton, Ore. He taught music in Knappa, Ore., and Elkton, Ore., before becoming band director in Arlington, Ore., in 1965. Over the next 15 years, he shared his love of music with the children of the community, giving them a lifelong appreciation of listening to and making their own music. Many former students have shared lasting memories of their years in band and choir.
Chuck served the Arlington community for the more than 50 years he lived there, volunteering on many boards and committees, including the port commission, the Gilliam County Transportation District and the North Gilliam County Cemetery District.
After retiring from active teaching, Chuck and Joyce turned their love of volunteering to the Peace Corps. They served for two years in Fiji with Joyce teaching nursing and Chuck as a water works advisor. They formed friendships with other volunteers that last to this day.
Chuck played every instrument, but his favorite was his beloved Selmer clarinet. Chuck’s talents showed at an early age when he taught himself to read the newspaper by age 5. He was playing fiddle and singing professionally at age 9 and continued to play professionally and for fun for the rest of his life. He played with the Oregon Jazz Band for 55 years, taking the family to exotic venues like Anaheim, Ship Ashore Resort in Crescent City, and the Albany Timber Festival. His favorite venue was his shop, where he jammed with locals and friends from all over.
Chuck was preceded in death by his son Charles A., his brother Leslie Hickerson, and his sister Charlotte Novotny. He is survived by his wife of 72 years, Joyce; sons Richard C. (Kathleen), Gerald E. (Pamela), Patrick D., and Andrew W., and daughter Ruth DeLaRosa (Robert); eight grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of life will be held in the spring.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to your favorite charity.