Retired Spokane teacher among floatplane crash victims

Pat Hicks, a retired schoolteacher, was among the 10 people who died in a plane crash Sunday off Whidbey Island.

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By Daniel Beekman / The Seattle Times

SPOKANE — Pat Hicks, a retired schoolteacher who blessed Spokane with her gentle nature, community spirit and dance moves, was among the 10 people who died in a plane crash Sunday off Whidbey Island.

Hicks, 66, was on her way back from a vacation in the San Juan Islands with her partner, Spokane civil rights activist Sandy Williams, when the floatplane went down.

“She was so excited about that trip,” her brother, Sam Hicks, said in an interview Tuesday from Los Angeles. “I never would have imagined something like this.”

Hicks grew up in the South Central region of LA, was “the baby” of six children and worked her way through college, becoming the first person in her family to earn a degree, her brother said.

As a teacher in Southern California, she focused on students receiving special education and on “troubled kids” who she understood, thanks to her own experiences as a young person, Sam Hicks said.

“She was an activist and she cared about her community,” he said, also describing his sister as “the glue” holding their family together in recent years. “She was pretty tough.”

Hicks bought a big mobile home after she retired, planning to tour the country. But she put her “bucket list” on hold after she made her way to Spokane and reconnected with Williams, an old friend.

“She stopped to visit Sandy and never left,” Sam Hicks said. “They were very, very happy.”

Williams was a hugely important leader in Spokane’s Black community and at large, cherished as a helper and respected as a truth teller. Together, she and Hicks radiated love, said Jacquelynne Sandoval, a friend.

“They were both amazing people,” Sandoval said. “You didn’t feel like you were small around them. You felt like family.”

Hicks joined a walking group in Spokane and “you could see her anywhere in the city on her electric bike,” said Kiantha Duncan, president of the NAACP’s Spokane branch. Just the other day, Duncan ran into Hicks and Williams at a park get-together. They were dancing.

“At every party, Pat was the dancer,” Duncan said. “She was always smiling.”

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