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Obit – Mr. Dean Hickman

The gentleman responsible for the hiring of the employees and initial plant operation of the Dana Corporation in Gordonsville has died at the age of 88.

Mr. Dean Hickman, a longtime resident of Gordonsville and now of Shelbyville, Indiana, was pronounced dead on arrival at Johnson Memorial Health E.R. in Franklin, Indiana on Monday evening September 4, 2023 at 8:43 p.m. after suffering an apparent attack while mowing at the home of his lady friend in Franklin.

Mr. Hickman is at the Carthage Chapel of Sanderson Funeral home where his funeral services will be conducted on Saturday afternoon September 16th at 1 p.m. with his longtime pastor, Eld. Junior Dickerson officiating. Burial will follow beside his wife in the Garden of Gethsemane at the Smith County Memorial Gardens.

Military Chapel honors will be provided by the American Legion Post # 57 of Carthage.

Mr. Hickman’s family will receive friends at Sanderson in Carthage only on Saturday from 11 a.m. until the services at 1 p.m.

The youngest of ten children, five sons and five daughters, he was born Merrell Dean Hickman in Cleveland in Bradley County, Tennessee on May 3, 1935 and was the last surviving child of the late Cletus William Hickman and Fannie Joann Bonine Hickman.

The nine siblings preceding him in death were; Margaret Hickman Scott, Bonnie Hickman Anderson, Sarah Lou Hickman Souls, Grace Hickman Cody, Jim Hickman, Johnny B. Hickman, Nathaniel “Red” Hickman, Clyde William Hickman, and Cecil Dugan Hickman.

A attended Bradley County High School and was a member of the class of 1951, having received his General Education Degree.

On April 4, 2022, he was preceded in death by his wife of almost sixty nine years, Cleveland, Tennessee native, the former Willie Mae Walker Hickman. They were united in marriage in Rossville, Georgia on June 27, 1953 by Rev. George McClure.

He was a United States Air Force Veteran during the Korean War and was honorably discharged with the rank of Basic Airman from the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas having been assigned to the 3708th Military Squadron.

He began his career with the Dana Corporation in 1955 in Marion, Indiana and transferred to Gordonsville on September 3, 1983 to begin hiring for the Gordonsville plant. After that plant began operation he was transferred to Reston, Washington, a Seattle suburb to manage that plant for two years before returning to Gordonsville to complete a thirty five year career with the Dana Corporation.

After coming to the Gordonsville facility, he would hire 120 employees to operate the plant which had the first day of operation on December 5, 1983. 

The first six employees hired on the first day employment was opened were Linda Bennett Williams, Mitchell Brooks, Patrick Brooks, Obie Apple, Danny Shepherd and Jay Wilburn. 

Mr. Hickman was always proud that the second employee hired, Mitchell Brooks of the Defeated Creek Community, was still employed at the plant almost forty years later and held the first seniority position at the facility.

After returning to Smith County from the Washington State Plant in 1990, he was saved at the age of 55 and was baptized into the full fellowship of the Plunketts Creek Missionary Baptist Church in the Rock City Community.

Mr. Hickman was very proud with his fellowship at the Plunketts Creek church. He enjoyed being a mentor to the young men within the church and to have the opportunity to encourage their involvement in service to the Lord.

The most important thing in Mr. Hickman’s life, beside his relationship with the Lord was his family. He always instilled in his children and grandchildren a strong work ethic. He wanted them to strive to succeed and to keep trying, to do better each time, were things they all had lovingly taught to them in them growing up.

After returning to Smith County he and his wife made their home on Maple Street in Gordonsville.

Mrs. Harriett Matthews became a part of his life this last year. They shared a common love of family. Working side by side they laughed and enjoyed a wonderful friendship.

Also surviving are three daughters, Lola Mae Hickman Hively and husband Randy of Claypool, IN, Cathy Hickman Mican and husband Rob of Chicago, Illinois, Beverly Hickman Small and husband Perry of La Fontaine, IN; son, Russell Charles “Russ” Hickman and wife Kim of Shelbyville, IN; twelve grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

The Hickman family has requested memorials to the Plunketts Creek Missionary Baptist Church.

Pallbearers will be men he had mentored from Plunketts Creek; Eld. Anthony Dixon, Mark Dawson, Mike Donnell, Richard Gregory, Lendon Grisham, and Mike Dickerson.


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