To the editor,
Dec. 25, 2020, Mr. Billy Hicks passed away and his passing marked the end of an era in our community. After graduating from MTSU in 1969, I landed my first professional job teaching architectural drawing and mathematics at Shelbyville Central High School. That same year my wife, Thesa, and I moved to Shelbyville to establish our first home. In that process we also attended the First Methodist Church where we established our "church home."
As is the case with most young couples in a new community, we did not know anyone who was attending that church. I well remember the first service we attended, because of something that happened that day. As soon as the benediction was pronounced, we joined the stream of worshippers heading for the exit! As we waited in line, I noticed a gentleman with a big smile that was working his way through the crowd and making his way towards us. That man was Billy Hicks. He introduced himself, greeted us warmly, and encouraged us to come back the following Sunday. We did come back, and every single Sunday thereafter he would speak to us as if we were the only folks in the sanctuary. My first impression of him was that he was a fine and caring man.
I later learned that his mother and father operated the Bedford Motor Court, and soon came to know that they were two of the best ambassadors for Shelbyville and Bedford County that ever lived there. Through conversations at church, I also learned that Billy worked for a local bank, but at that time a banker was the last professional person I needed! I soon learned that teaching school was a calling, but not a way to make money!
I decided to develop a sideline business selling and installing carpet. As a businessman, I got to know the professional side of Billy Hicks. He encouraged me to stay with it as a businessman and I took his advice. During the intervening years we saw a number of hometown banks begin to dwindle as they were bought out by much larger banking institutions. Local banks began to suffer because they were competing for financing within a regional market. At this point in time, Billy Hicks and other forward thinking bankers decided to create a new local bank. That decision has made a huge difference for small-business owners in our community. I had the pleasure of deepening my relationship with Billy as the years passed. I had come to know Billy Hicks as a friend, a gentleman, and a mentor.
At the same time, he was working tirelessly in his church, his civic clubs, helping local families and as a father and grandfather. He was an extraordinary man in every respect. He was a model citizen and will be missed.