Memorial services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Central Presbyterian Church for long time Waxahachie resident, corporate and community leader Marcus Rea Hickerson, 85, who passed away Saturday, Aug. 6.

Born in Waco, Texas, on Sept. 10, 1926, Hickerson was raised just a few miles south of Waco, in Lorena, on his family farm. He was known by many Waxahachie associates and friends as an astute businessman, effective leader and a hard worker at whatever task he undertook for the community.

State Rep. Jim Pitts commented on the legacy Hickerson left to the community.

“With Marcus’ death, Waxahachie definitely lost one of its most outstanding and supportive citizens,” Pitts said. “He was an extraordinary gentleman that I greatly admired. Marcus was a close personal friend whose positive outlook on life was always an example to me. I will truly miss him.”

Citizens National Bank of Texas president Mark Singleton noted the tenacity and dedication that characterized Hickerson’s community service.

“One thing I remember about Marcus was, every time I asked him how he was doing, he always answered, ‘doing strong,’ ” Singleton said. “And that word epitomized everything he did and every task he tackled for the community – he will certainly be missed.

Singleton noted that he observed Hickerson as he took on the zoning for the ill-fated Superconducting Super Collider project.

“Even though the project was eventually gutted, he did a yeoman’s job working on that project,” he said. “He was somebody that I wanted to model myself after.”

After Hickerson graduated from Lorena High School, he served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. A graduate of North Texas State University, he began his career with Eli Walker Dry Goods Company in Dallas. In 1951, he became a general partner of Hickerson’s Food Store in Downtown Waxahachie.

Hickerson was a U.S. Air Force reservist and served on active duty during the Korean Conflict.

In 1961, he became director of Holly Corporation based in Azusa, Calif. And later that year, he was appointed as president. In 1972, he joined Great Lakes Development Company, a subsidiary of Centex Corporation of Dallas as president, a position he held until his retirement in 1988.

In May 2010, he retired from the Holly Corporation board of directors after serving for more than 50 years. Hickerson married his college sweetheart, Renda Louise Morgan in July 1951. The couple recently celebrated their 60th anniversary.

Waxahachie attorney Steve Chapman commented on the legacy Hickerson left in the community.

“Marcus Hickerson was one of the outstanding leaders of our community. He worked hard and well to help our community to improve through his actions and his work,” said Waxahachie attorney Steve Chapman. “He was a gentleman to work with and will be greatly missed.”

Harold Barnard, president of Ellis County Abstract and Title Company, touted Hickerson as an astute businessman with a keen mind.

“I had the privilege of serving with him in the Waxahachie Foundation and on the board of directors for the Ellis County Museum. He was well respected and one of those people that came to a board meeting with a very quiet and non-assuming demeanor, but when he spoke, everyone sat up and listened,” Barnard said. “He had a stellar career through the years and everybody has loved Marcus and Renda. I just can’t say enough about him. He was very active with the city and economic development.”

Among his list of positions held in Waxahachie, Hickerson was president of the Waxahachie ISD board of trustees and was instrumental in acquiring the then out-of-town property that is now home to the current Waxahachie High School. He served as chairmen of the board of Baylor Medical Center – Ellis County, president and director of the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation, a director of the Waxahachie Foundation, a director and treasurer of the Waxahachie YMCA, chairman of the Ellis County Planning and Zoning Commission and a director of the Ellis County Water Control and Improvement District. He was named Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1993.

“One word comes to mind – ‘strong,’ which was the response one would receive from the everyday greeting of ‘How are you Marcus?’ ” said Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce CEO Debra Wakeland.

“Other words that come to mind when you think of Marcus is mentor, kind, smart, witty and caring. Obviously he just did not move back to Texas soon enough – wow, what a difference he made for the city and chamber.”

Former WISD assistant superintendent and WISD board member Max Simpson said Hickerson was always interested in everything pertaining to the school district, city and community.

“He had a real passion for the place where he lived and wanted to make it better,” Simpson said, saying he discovered that he and Hickerson grew up within a few miles of each other. “He grew up in Lorena and I grew up in Waco – and I lived two houses down from his uncle. We often talked about what a small world it was.”

Simpson cited Hickerson as “forward thinking” and “ahead of his time” when it came to civic leadership.

“I always valued his opinion about money and investments,” he said. “Marcus was just a genuinely good guy and the town will truly miss him.”

Simpson recalled Hickerson conducting courthouse tours during the Gingerbread Trail.

“After I retired from WISD, I ran for the school board and Marcus had some very sound advice and was very encouraging to me,” Simpson said.

Former Waxahachie city manager Bob Sokoll, who worked with Hickerson in various projects and venues for more than 30 years, noted he was “definitely” an asset to the community.

“He has done a lot for our community, working with the city, the chamber of commerce with industrial development,” Sokoll said, saying he played a significant role in the water board and always had a desire to help with water problems.

“He was a good man – it is a big loss to our city,” Sokoll said.

Hickerson is survived by his wife, Renda; son, Marcus Neale Hickerson and wife Dane of Dallas; grandchildren Marcus Lee and Stephanie Rea Hickerson; daughter, Lisa Annette Magalksi of Folsom, Calif.; grandchildren, Ashli Nicole and Alexa Emily Magalski; son, Stephen Rea Hickerson and wife Kim of Waxahachie; grandchildren Katlyn Rose and Olin Riley Hickerson.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Central Presbyterian Church, 402 N. College St., Waxahachie.

His final request was that his body be donated to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center for organ donor and medical research. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Ellis County Museum, Presbyterian Children’s Home of Waxahachie and the American Society.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.