Obituary — Tom Hickey


Tom Hickey, professor emeritus of health behavior and health education, died Nov. 8, 2020, at the age of 80 after complications from surgery.

Tom Hickey
Tom Hickey

He was born Dec. 21, 1939, in Monterey Park, California, to Thomas John II and Celestine Hickey. He grew up in California and earned a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree from California State University and master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA.

From 1970-76, he taught at Pennsylvania State University. He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1976 as associate professor and associate research scientist, and was promoted to professor and research scientist in 1981. He was appointed faculty associate in the Institute of Gerontology in 1987.

In the School of Public Health, Hickey directed the health gerontology program. He taught courses on aging and management of chronic illness in addition to health ethics classes that were widely attended by students from across the campus.

Hickey’s research addressed the problems of chronic impairment in the elderly, and he tested a low-intensity exercise intervention designed to help older people maintain their basic functional abilities and delay the need for long-term care.

Hickey was an accomplished scholar, author and leader as an active advocate for research and education in aging and public health. He testified before Congress and served as a consultant to many government agencies. In 1992, he was elected president of the Gerontological Society of America.

He was a founding member and early president of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and was the first chair of the American Public Health Association’s gerontological health section. Hickey received distinguished research awards from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and the National University Extension Association.

His greatest roles in life came not from accomplishments but from his family. Hickey married Louise in 1965. They enjoyed cooking gourmet meals, traveling, playing golf, watching football, games of cribbage, and spending summers at Higgins Lake, Michigan. He loved the new community of friends they found in retirement in Arizona.

Hickey is survived by his wife, Louise, of Phoenix, Arizona; children Joel (Lisa) of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Jamie (Chris Brown) and Katherine of Mount Pleasant, Michigan; sisters Barbara, Margaret and Maureen; brothers Pat (Pam) and Mike (Debbie); brother-in-law George Altizer; former sister-in-law Barbara Starkweather; and numerous nieces and nephews and family friends.

Hickey believed in higher education so in lieu of flowers, consider a donation to the School of Public Health or the Dr. Tom and Louise Hickey Scholarship Award at Central Michigan University at

— Submitted by the Hickey family


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