Carter M. Hickman, 95, Md. legislator for 5 terms, Eastern Shore educator

By Frederick N. Rasmussen
sun reporter

February 21, 2006

Carter M. Hickman, a former educator and Queen Anne's County Democrat who served for two decades in the House of Delegates, died of complications from pneumonia Saturday at a retirement home in Westborough, Mass. He was 95.

Mr. Hickman was born in Felton, Del., and raised in the Queen Anne's community of Roberts Station. He attended the one-room Crane Swamp School and graduated from Church Hill High School.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Washington College in 1931 and a master's degree in education from Columbia University in 1934. He also did graduate work at the University of Maryland and University of Delaware.

Mr. Hickman taught mathematics and science and coached boys' athletics teams from 1931 to 1942 at Sudlersville High School. He was principal of Centreville High School for seven years until being named supervisor of Queen Anne's County high schools in 1949.

In 1954, Mr. Hickman left education when he purchased Greensboro Supply Co., a feed and grain business that he operated until 1966. He also had been a real estate salesman for C.E. Anthony Jr. & Co., and later owned Queen Anne's Realty Co.

Mr. Hickman was elected to the first of five terms in the House of Delegates in 1962, and during his career he served as chairman of the Legislative and Executive Committee, vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and as a member of the Land Use and Open Space Committee.

He also served on numerous gubernatorial commissions, including panels on the state fire code, interest and usury, drug addiction, education and salaries of elected officials. He had represented the state on the Agricultural Committee of the Council of State Governments and was chairman of the Legislature's Democratic Caucus.

"He was a grand fellow, and I remember him so well," John Hanson Briscoe, a former House speaker and retired St. Mary's County Circuit judge, said yesterday. "He was handsome, distinguished-looking and reserved and always impeccably dressed.

"And whenever Carter stood up to speak, everyone stopped talking and listened because he rarely took to the floor. He didn't believe in all that malarkey of making endless speeches. He wasn't trying to cure all the ills of the world, but when he did rise, it was like a priest or a holy person had risen to speak."

A conservative Shore Democrat, but "a little more toward the center" than others, Mr. Hickman enthusiastically backed civil rights legislation and the Equal Rights Amendment, Judge Briscoe said.

"He was a courtly Southern gentleman who smoked a pipe and sat in front of me in the House of Delegates," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller of Prince George's County recalled. "He may have been from the Eastern Shore, but he always took the wide view of issues affecting the entire state. He really was a great leader."

"Mr. Hickman personified what it meant to be a representative of the people," said Carvel Payne, former director of the state Department of Legislative Services. "He thought things out and had lots of common sense. Members sought him out for advice and counsel, and his word, once given, was golden."

After retiring from the House of Delegates in 1982, Mr. Hickman returned to his 200-acre Walnut Hill Farm in Church Hill, where he had lived since 1948.

In 1999, the Queen Anne's County District Court building was named for Mr. Hickman.

He was a member and lay leader of Church Hill Methodist Church and a member of the Lions Club and of the board of the old Chestertown Bank.

He moved last year with his wife of 68 years, the former Marion Hardesty, to the Westborough retirement home, to be near their daughter, Suzanne H. Pratt of Cambridge, Mass.

Plans for services were incomplete yesterday.

Also surviving are a son, David H. Hickman of Washington; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Copyright © 2006, The Baltimore Sun