Michael Hickey, former Howard Co. schools superintendent, dies at 84

Michael Hickey, who was the superintendent for the Howard County Public Schools System in Maryland for 16 years, died Sunday at the age of 84.

Hickey, a Columbia, Maryland, resident, took the role in 1984 after serving as the superintendent of St. Louis Park Public Schools in Minneapolis for eight years. He retired in 2000 to become a professor and director of the Center for Leadership in Education at Towson University until his retirement in 2018.

“He will be remembered as being a personable, accessible man who was committed to getting to know his community and developing an extensive system of partnerships with the community to support students with resources and knowledge,” HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano said in a statement. “I appreciate the guidance and friendship he extended so often to me personally.”

In a statement on his Facebook page, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball said that as an educator and alumnus of Towson University, he appreciates Hickey’s legacy even more.

“Dr. Hickey was a national authority in public education leadership, a gifted leader and a wonderful human being devoted to helping improve underserved populations and inner-city school systems,” Ball said. “My heart is with Nicole, his children, family, and every person whose life he has touched.”

Hickey was an Eagle Scout who joined the Marines after his high school graduation, according to his obituary. Once he was honorably discharged, he attended the University of Washington and received his undergraduate degree.

After teaching for two years at the high school level, he returned to Washington to complete his master’s degree and then his doctorate with high honors in 1969. He became the special assistant to the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools in Washington state and then promoted to deputy superintendent at 34 years old. He left to work in St. Louis in 1976.

He survived by his wife, Nichole; his three children Michael Jr. (Denney), Kevin (Jodi), and Sean; and three grandsons, Kellen (Lindsay), Jack and Luke.

A celebration of life ceromancy will take place on Sept. 15 at 4 p.m. in the Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home in Ellicott City. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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