By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
Jon Hickman was more than just the mayor of Ely. To some he was a fundraiser in a goofy costume. To others, he was a character that could wisecrack in his raspy tone. At city council meetings, he was a mediator.
To Wayne Cameron, he was a long time friend.
“He was such an integral part of this community. He was a good role model as a mayor, and he played the role correctly,” Cameron said.
The two worked together for eight years. Cameron sat on the board of directors for the Chamber of Commerce when Hickman was president. He can still remember the goofy things his friend would do as Mayor to support different events and causes.
“I can still remember him wearing those outfits during the dinosaur races,” Cameron said.
Hickman passed away on Feb. 18 of natural causes. He was found by police during a welfare check after friends became concerned when noone had heard from him.
Despite his battle with cancer and other health problems, the news of his death came as a shock to the community.
Hickman was elected in 2007 and had one year left in his second term when he died.
He had said in an article of The Ely Times released in January that he was looking forward to seeing some of his projects he had been working on throughout his time as mayor finally coming to fruition, namely the new dialysis center opening in downtown Ely.
Terrilyn Diamond started a Facebook group called “In loving memory of Mayor Jon Hickman” to give all the people who the former mayor touched a place to grieve together, and to remember the man that made them smile.
“He always had something good to say about everybody. Whether is was to give you a hard time or lift your spirits, Jon knew the words that were needed,” Jodi McShane said in a post in the Facebook group.
The group has since grown to include 168 members.
McShane had asked Hickman to marry her and her fiancé at their wedding later this year.
“We will not forget him. Although he will not be here to celebrate our day with us, there will be a chair reserved in his honor accompanied by a top hat.”
The group is filled with photos taken by people that knew the mayor. Not afraid to be in front of a camera, Diamond said that Hickman “was very encouraging” with her photography.
Diamond is working with Cameron to create a slide show that will remember Hickman through the community’s photos to be shown at his funeral on March 1 at the Bristlecone Convention Center.
With Hickman’s passing, City Councilman Dale Derbidge has taken over mayoral responsibilities as mayor pro tem. And while the city and the community mourn and move on, they have made it clear that they won’t forget their Mayor.
“He always seemed like one of the people that had the best interests of the community at heart. He was just what the mayor should be,” Meg Rhoades said.