Touted for a genuine love for his hometown, the 2018 Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year Billy Hickman credited his friends and family for helping inspire and support him.
Hickman was honored Tuesday during the 30th Annual Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Awards gala, held every spring to recognize those in the Statesboro and Bulloch County community for generosity, compassion, and selflessness shown through acts of kindness and caring. Statesboro attorney Gerald Edenfield presented Hickman with the award, leading up to naming him by listing his accolades,.
Hickman “cultivated good will, family values and dreams of success” through his endeavors, he said. “He has the foresight to look for opportunities to help” both individuals and charitable organizations, he said.
“If anyone in this room truly loves Bulloch County and its residents, it is our Statesboro Herald Humanitarian of the Year,” Edenfield said. “Born and raised here, this man vowed at an early age that he would do all he could to make our community the best it can be, a place where his own children could grow and remain.
“A friend said this man “never hesitates to help those in need. He doesn't wait to be asked. Our humbly Christian honoree has unselfishly given countless hours, not only to the community and various non-profit organizations, but also to individuals who need a friend, a shoulder, a visit, but first and foremost, always a prayer.”
Hickman gives money and time to a host of civic and charitable endeavors, he said. “You may have seen him working diligently to help raise funds and awareness for the Alzheimer's Association, helping organize and support local events like Striking Out Alzheimer's and Rockin'
Out Alzheimer's that provide the resources needed to support caregivers, to create additional awareness and to fund research.”
Hickman “has wholeheartedly supported Statesboro’s Blue Mile project and is a true blue fan of Georgia Southern University, This dedicated and determined person has provided leadership to numerous civic and community groups for years.
:”Friends and coworkers praise this man for his heart and kindness, hos attention to the most minute need.
He is always available when needed, whether it is on a weekend, early morning or late evening. He finds the time to make a difference and never hesitates to sacrifice his time to help others. He shows genuine care and concern, taking time out to do such things as visit a friend sitting with a gravely ill parent at the hospital on Thanksgiving day.”
Edenfield read a list of Hickman’s contributions to society, some of which include leading the forensic practice and overseeing the audit, review and compilation practices at a local accounting firm and testifying as an expert witness countless times in regional Superior Courts and Federal Bankruptcy Court.
At Georgia Southern University alone, his alma mater, Hickman served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Southern University Foundation, Inc. as well as the Advisory Council for the School of Accountancy, the College of Business Administration.
“Our Humanitarian serves on the boards of Excelsior Electric Membership Corporation, East Georgia Regional Medical Center, Lynda Brannen Williamson Foundation, Inc., and the Board of Trustees of First Baptist Church of Statesboro,” he said.
“He is past president of the Downtown Rotary Club of Statesboro, and serves on the Southeast Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants Business Advisory Council, He also served on the Ogeechee Technical College Board of Directors, OTC Executive Committee and is past president of the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation.”
Hickman also served as co-chair for the Committee to Review Consolidation of local governments in Statesboro-Bulloch County; is past president of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce and chairman of Savannah to Augusta Developmental Highway Association and served eight years on the Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee.
He also served on the Development Authority of Bulloch County; as chairman of the Board for United Way of Southeast Georgia and as campaign chairman; as section chairman of Human Services for United Way Fund Drive in Bulloch County and a participant of Leadership Georgia, Class of 1986
“That’s not all,” Edenfield continued. “This man served as chairman for Relay for Life cancer drive, 2002 and 2003 and as chairman of ‘A Day for Southern’ campaign at Georgia Southern University in 2004.”
Hickman is past president of the Midday Optimist Club and is on the First Baptist Church Finance Committee. In 1989 he was honored here with the Deen Day Smith Service to Mankind Award and was noted as Alumni of the Year in 1997 for Theta Kappa Chapter of Sigma Nu. In 1998, he was named Outstanding Accounting Alumnus, Georgia Southern University.
He gave the December 2002 Commencement address to Georgia Southern University and was honored by the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce as the 2007 Business Leader of the Year.
In 2012 je was inducted into the International Honor Society of Beta Gamma Sigma at Georgia Southern University and in 2013 was named Alumni of the Year for the GSU College of Business Administration.
In 2014 he was awarded an Associate Life Membership in the Peace Officers' Association of Georgia.
Hickman’s most recent and well-known accomplishment is that he has “been carrying a torch for the last 20 years “regarding a dream that has become reality for many Bulloch County residents. Hickman “spearheaded the efforts to build a multipurpose agricultural arena in the county,” he said.
He is now the chairman of Bulloch County Multi-Purpose Agricultural Building Committee.
“While the project was delayed for various reasons, Hickman never gave up. He made presentations to major donor prospects to create renewed interest and to promote the potential of the new facility. Hickman did the market research and studied the demographics which showed that the closest facilities of this type were located outside of a 75-mile radius of Bulloch County.
“This facility will not only contribute to the quality of life in Bulloch County, but will provide a venue to attract visitors from a wide area. Statistics show these visitors place little burden on county infrastructure while providing a significant boost to the local economy,” he said.
Hickman enjoys a lifelong passion, horses, and is active in Thoroughbred racing. He also lectures on a variety of topics including individual and corporate taxation and forensic accounting. He and his wife, JoAnn, have two sons and five grandsons.
Hickman graciously accepted the award and told guests that the room held many people who were his mentors.
“I thank God to have been born in Bulloch County,” he said. “I thank God to have grown up here and to still live here. I love this community. I want to die here and be buried in Eastside Cemetery. My life is Bulloch County.”
Hickman thanked his wife, family and coworkers in his office, Dabbs, Hickman, Hill and cannon, CPA, for his success.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489- 9414.