Service Friday for Gardnerville native Tommy Hickey |

Service Friday for Gardnerville native Tommy Hickey

by Brian Hickey
Special to The R-C
Tom Hickey displays his “pit pass” at Sonoma Raceway.
Brian Hickey

The checkered flag waved one final time for Thomas “Tommy” Hickey, 73, on the morning of April 3, 2019. The fourth-generation Nevadan and lifelong Gardnerville resident died peacefully at home after a long battle with illness. Hickey leaves behind a legacy of family, racing, skiing and community service.

A service celebrating his life is 10 a.m. Friday at St. Gall Catholic Church. A reception will follow in the St. Gall Pastoral Center.

Hickey was born Dec. 27, 1945 to James K. and Grace M. (Oxoby) Hickey. He was the youngest brother to Mike and Dan Hickey. He was married to his loving wife Terri for 47 years. Together, they had two sons.

Hickey taught Red Cross swimming classes while attending Douglas County High School. He graduated in 1964. From there, he would go on to Sierra College in Rocklin where he would earn an associate arts degree in electronics.

When he returned home from college, he was hired at Bently Nevada Corp. It is here where he met his future wife, Terri Manning.

Together, with brother Mike, they opened Hickey’s Drive-In in 1974. The frosty stop served up burgers, fries and ice cream for 10 years.

After selling the restaurant in 1984, he entered the family trade of construction. He owned and operated T-Electric, an electrical contracting business for more than 30 years.

Hickey was a lifelong fan of car racing that started when he was a young boy. He would spend hours racing his go-kart around Jimmy’s Motel and Frosty Spot, built by his parents. He would eventually go on to race at T-car Speedway in Carson City and earn the title “Tricky Hickey.” The pinnacle of his career took him to Ontario Motor Speedway twice, where he raced in NASCAR’s Winston West Series.

Hickey’s smile was contagious. Friends often commented on his positive attitude. He was known as a man who put others before himself. Perhaps his greatest gift to the community was his 55 years in the Sunday Douglas County Ski Club, where he was a founding member, chaperone and director. It is safe to say he taught thousands of kids the joy of skiing and snowboarding.

He served Carson Valley for 15 years as a Gardnerville volunteer firefighter and member of the Gardnerville Town Water Board. He and brother Dan were instrumental in restoring the Old Douglas High School into the Douglas County Historical Society Museum & Cultural Center. He also served on the society’s board of trustees.

The dawn of the space age was a fascination for Hickey. He fulfilled a dream of watching Apollo 14 launch at Cape Canaveral in 1971. In the years following, he would bring models of spacecraft into school classrooms and teach kids about the history of the NASA space program. He attended two landings of the Space Shuttle at Edward’s Air Force Base, including the first landing of Space Shuttle Columbia.

After the snow receded and the ski areas closed, Hickey enjoyed riding his ATV in mountains around the valley with a group of friends called the “Quadralleros.”

Hickey is survived by his wife Terri, sons Brian (wife Rene) and Kevin (wife Bethany), brother Mike and grandchildren Sophia, Olivia and Perry. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Dan.