Alfred (Fred) Hicks, 64, president of Hicks Nurseries in Westbury, N.Y., died October 1 from complications from a rare blood disorder. Hicks is the Long Island’s oldest garden center.
In the 1960s, Fred took over the more-than-100-year-old nursery from his father Edwin who was just one in the long line of successors in the Hicks business.
"In the 1960s, with Long Island’s growth from a rural to a suburban community complete, Fred saw the need to re-focus the business to keep pace with the new Long Islanders. At that time there were still 245 acres of nursery production. He kept the best of what was already established and over the next 10 years converted the nursery to a thriving family-oriented retailing and growing operation that serves hundreds of thousands of people each year,” according to the Hicks Web site.
"It's just a tremendous loss to the nursery and landscape industry,” said Bob Dolibois, executive vice president of the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA), in an obituary from Newsday.com. Hicks served as president in 1996-97 and was inducted into the group's Hall of Fame of ANLA last year. “He was one of the most knowledgeable, versatile and progressive garden center retailers in the industry,” Dolibois added in the obituary.
"The question before the family was, 'Do we sell the business or do we reinvigorate it?'" Alfred's son, Stephen, of Huntington, said, adding that his parents, a then-young couple, "kind of took a deep breath and said, 'We're going to do this.'"
According to Stephen, Fred’s son, in the obituary, “The business was more than ‘just dollars and cents’ to his father. He viewed the business almost as his fourth child.”
“‘The most important thing to him was his family, first and foremost,’ Stephen Hicks said. What he remembers most fondly are the family trips his father planned, he said. There was a cross-country drive, European excursions and a rafting trip down the Colorado River. Later in life, Alfred Hicks and Marilyn, his wife of 38 years, photographed polar bears in the Arctic Circle, went on an African safari and trekked to Antarctica,” according to the obituary.
Fred is survived by his wife, Marilyn, son Stephen, daughters Karen, Marianne and six grandchildren.