Former Howard County schools Superintendent Michael Hickey, right, is pictured with current Superintendent Michael Martirano. (Submitted photo)


May 30, 1938-Aug. 28, 2022

Michael E. Hickey of Columbia, Maryland, died on August 28, 2022, at age 84.  Born 1938 in Iron Mountain, Michigan, his family moved to Walla Walla, Washington, in 1942 where he grew up.  He was an Eagle Scout who joined the Marines following high school graduation. Following his honorable discharge from the Corps he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington, taught high school English for two years and then returned to the U of W, completing his master’s and then Ph.D. with highest honors in 1969. He was then recruited to work as the Special Assistant to the Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools where he led the team that successfully desegregated the schools voluntarily and, at the age of 34, he was named the system’s Deputy Superintendent.

Michael Hickey (Submitted photo)
Michael Hickey (Submitted photo)

He served as Superintendent of St. Louis Park Schools in Minnesota from 1976 to 1984, leaving that position to become Superintendent of the Howard County Public School System in Maryland where he served for 16 years until June 30, 2000.  His career in education entered a new phase when he retired from the county position and joined the faculty of Towson University the very next day as Price Hentz Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Leadership in Education until his retirement in 2018.  Mike was a valued colleague and known as an advocate of distributed leadership who shared his expertise with aspiring leaders in a collegial and authentic manner.  He was considered one of the foremost national authorities in public education leadership, a gifted leader and a wonderful human being devoted to helping to improve underserved populations and inner-city school systems.  

Michael was an avid bicyclist, who enjoyed traveling with his beloved wife of 38 years, Nichole Hickey.  For many years he volunteered at the Columbia Festival of the Arts, where Nichole was the Executive Director.  He also loved Washington Husky football, Walla Walla wines, spending time with his grandsons, and outdoor grilling on the weekends with Nichole on their deck overlooking the pond in their backyard.

He is survived by Nichole, his three children Michael E. Hickey Jr. (Denney), Kevin P. Hickey (Jodi), and Sean T. Hickey, and three grandsons, Kellen R. Hickey (Lindsay), Jack P. Hickey and Luke J. Hickey.  He is also survived by his brother Patrick Hickey (Frances) and sister Mary Hunt.  Predeceased in death by his son, Timothy F. Hickey and sister, Kathleen Hickey.  Celebration of Life to be held at the Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home, 4112 Old Columbia Pike, Ellicott City on Thursday, September 15, 2022 beginning at 4pm.  Memorials in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation.