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George Hickman, one of the original Tuskegee airmen and a longtime usher at University of Washington and Seattle Seahawks games, has died at age 88.

His wife, Doris, confirmed Monday that he died early Sunday morning in Seattle.

Hickman was one of the country’s first black military pilots and ground crew members who fought in World War II.

In 2007, he and other Tuskegee airmen traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor. In 2009, he attended President Barack Obama’s inauguration as a special guest.

Hickman was a fixture at Seattle sporting events. He personalized the often anonymous job of ushering fans to their seats, and most regulars to UW basketball and football games knew him by first name. He was perhaps the best known person at Husky Stadium.

“Things will be a little different right before we go out on the court not being able to shake the hand of George Hickman,” UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar tweeted Monday.

UW football coach Steve Sarkisian also tweeted: “He represented the UW and the Tuskegee Airmen with class. I will always appreciate how he treated my family.”

“He was just a wonderful man,” Doris Hickman said Monday of her husband.

The grandson of slaves, Hickman nurtured an interest in aviation as a curious boy gazing up at the sky above St. Louis.

That passion evolved from buying cheap model airplanes to joining the segregated pilot training program in Tuskegee, Ala., and later to a nearly three-decade long career at Boeing in Seattle.

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article courtesy of BlackAmericaWeb.com

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