Retired Evanston Fire Chief Sanders Hicks died this afternoon.

Fire Chief Brian Scott announced the death.

Hicks was Evanston’s first African-American firefighter, and Scott says he served the city with distinction from November 1950 until his retirement in May 1987.

The department’s training room was named for Hicks at a ceremony in 2015.

Hicks is congratulated by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz during the 2015 ceremony. (EFD photo)

During that ceremony, then Fire Chief Greg Klaiber said Hicks experienced discrimination during his early years on the job, being forced to eat alone and use separate silverware. It was “racism, nothing but racism,” Klaiber said.

But despite that and more troubles, Hicks said he perservered, “Because I love the job.”

Hicks was also a founding member and long time coach of the Evanston Speed-Skating Club and was the first coach of Olympic speed skater Shani Davis.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Updae 6:15 p.m. 6/20/17:

Chief Hicks is survived by his wife, Karen; sons Brady Hicks and Michael Walters; and two grandchildren. Services are as follows:

Wake: Friday, June 23, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Donnellan Family Funeral Services, 10045 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, IL. The Fire Department Walk-through will take place at 7 p.m.

Visitation Service: Saturday, June 24, 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., at Donnellan Family Funeral Services.

Funeral Services: Saturday, June 24, 10:30 a.m. at Unitarian Church of Evanston, 1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Sam Hicks
    I was Chief Hicks’ secretary in 1979 until he was promoted to Chief. He was a good boss , knew his job extremely well. He was on the Department when my late father in law Roy Decker was captainl They worked together; Sorry for the loss of Chief Hicks; He was an enthusiastic firefigher and loved his jobl He was also enthusiastic about the speed skating with which he was involved with; God bless you Chief Hicks and condolances to your beloved family. Sincere sympathy Joann Decker Minear

    1. Sam Hicks
      Sam was a great man. I knew him as my first coach. In 1968 when i was 6 Sam spotted me at Humboldt Park in the city speed skating meet and asked me if I wanted to join. Our entire family subsequently went on to be part of the speed skating community for many years. I will always treasure the times I spend with Sam, his keen advice about skating and also the glint in his eye, as he’d share an insight with his typical wit. He was a pioneer and a person who not just persevered, but succeeded. His success helped and had a positive impact on so many, including myself. He will be dearly missed.

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