Raymond Edward Hicks
The legendary 93-year-old Raymond Edward Hicks passed away peacefully on November 27, 2023, at his sister's home in Naselle, WA. He was born on May 9, 1930, in Haddam, Kansas to Orra and Mary (King) Hicks. He was baptized in the Catholic Church.
Raymond's academic journey led him through South Bend Schools, culminating in his graduation from SBHS in 1949. Despite not actively participating in sports, music or class plays, he demonstrated exceptional prowess by becoming the SW Washington State checker Champion in his senior year.
When he was barely 12, he built for his baby sister and the neighborhood kids a merry-go-round, swings, and 30' high Ferris Wheel by himself, requiring him to hand saw the trees on the family property to construct the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel had a hand crank that he used to make it turn and for the merry-go-round he would stand under it and turn the overhead supporting braces by hand to make it go. It took six weeks to complete.
He made his first floathouse using discarded Japanese-oyster-seed boxes placed on the tidelands. Including the wood-burning-kitchen stove, nails, and hardware for the cabinetry, the total cost was $27. and change. The day after he graduated, he moved into his floathouse that was moored at the dock at the Union Pacific Railroad in South Bend.
He built three sawmills, three shingle mills (co-owner and operator of M & H Shingle Mill), three floathouses, moved barns and houses, removed the 3rd Street Bridge going into Raymond, WA, owned and operated his pile driver, built most of the docks in Pacific & Grays Harbor counties, and 24 tide gates (some more than once because they were old), certified explosive technician, raised herds of cattle, commercial fisherman, logger, beekeeper, and record keeper. He also has numerous entries in the Pacific County Fair with blue ribbons, Special Awards, and Best of Class.
Resourcefulness has been used to describe him. He would live months in his floathouse on the remote-wooded North River, set up by his own water system, made an electrical system from the water supply for electricity, had a flushing toilet, automatic washing machine, a workshop, deck for the tubs for blue stone to treat the nets and racks so he could repair or dry the nets. There he raised his garden and cattle, fished, picked ferns (for florists), and peeled Cascara bark (used to make laxatives).
Ray started his first garden when he was four years old by placing potato peelings in the ground and the next year, he used potato peelings that had "eyes". While he was living in his house in town, he would have an acre plot garden with corn, peas, beans, tomatoes (one year 600 pounds of extra tomatoes for sale), 80 head of cabbage, carrots, onions, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, loganberries, hops, rhubarb, and bees to pollinate. He had a large assortment of Rhododendrons, other ornamental plants, and an orchard with assorted fruit trees. He grew popcorn and cantaloupe that actually produced and was unheard of in the cool Pacific Northwest There were never weeds in his garden, and he hand watered each and every plant. He would make massive gallons of sour kraut with the cabbage. He had one of the best-looking gardens in Pacific County. Then, he would can all of the produce on his wood burning cookstove.
He has always been known for his hard work, strong ethics, demanding perfection in his work and that it would be of the highest quality. He never had to look for a job - they always came to him. He was sought out by residents, large companies, city, county, state, and federal officials to resolve issues usually involving waterways. His commissions were modest and fair. He consistently demonstrated generosity by providing relevant advice to assist others in resolving problems.
Ray had extensive knowledge of local history, vintage and antique tools and equipment, mechanics, construction, gardening, operating heavy equipment, all of the waterways in Pacific County and most of Grays Harbor County. His memory was sharp and often consulted for dates, time, places on current events and events decades ago. Once someone brought a tool to Bayview Lumber and no one had a clue what it was or used for. Ray identified it, said where it was made, what year it was made, what company made it and what it was used for.
Some of his most rewarding times were when he would do something for others such as repairing a broken-down car along the side of the road and he refused payment of any kind, give unexpecting gifts to friends and acquaintances, throw a picnic up North River with all of the trimmings for boaters and fishers on the river.
Recognition was conferred when Steve Rogers, the president of the Pacific County Historical Society, authorized a story on Ray Hicks. Subsequently, the Pacific County Commissioners officially renamed Quincy Street in Eklund Park to Ray Hicks Street.
One of the most recent personal memories was his 92nd birthday party held at South Bend School with 100 attendees. The party was delayed for 45 minutes because friends were standing in line to talk to him.
Readers are invited to post their "Ray Hicks Story" on the Facebook page "You Know You Grew Up in South Bend When..." At the reception there will be an opportunity to share your stories in writing at each table.
The funeral services will be held at Bayview Funeral Home (formally Stoller's Mortuary), 315 5th St. Raymond, WA at 11 a.m. with a potluck reception following at South Bend School cafeteria. Cider will be served made from Ray's homemade cider press and vanilla icecream made from his homemade hand-cranked-icecream maker.
Raymond is survived by his sister Doris Busse of Naselle, WA; brother and sister-in-law, Lawrence and Hazel Hicks of Mesa, AZ; nieces Laurel (Joe) Orsdol, McCleary, WA, Kelly Zakel-Larson (Dale), Ellensburg, WA; Nephew Darcy Zakel, Naselle, WA; great nephews and great nieces; numerous cousins.
Those who have passed are James Hicks, brother; Shawn Zakel, nephew; Larry Hicks, nephew.
The family would like to thank his volunteer caregiver, Dutch Holland, Sherry Franks PA-C, Willapa Harbor Health and Hospice, Chaplin Steve Rote and Father Clarence Jones for their care and support and South Bend School District.
For those who want to honor Ray, planting a tree (especially an apple tree) or donating to Timberland Regional Library, 507 Duryea St., Raymond, WA, 98577 for a large print book would be a welcome gesture. At the time of his death, he had 58 fruit trees -mostly apple- that he started with root stock and still in pots waiting to be planted. During winter months he did extensive reading of local history, logging, and anything to do with waterways.
Saturday, December 16, 2023
Starts at 11:00 am (Pacific time)
Bayview Funeral Home Raymond
Funeral services will be held at Bayview Funeral Home, 315 5th Street, Raymond, WA, at 11 am, with a potluck reception following at South Bend School cafeteria. Cider will be served made from Ray's homemade cider press and vanilla ice cream made from his homemade hand-cranked-icecream maker.