James Hicker Has Died

James Allen Hicker, one of the pillars of the Polish community of Tacoma, has passed away peacefully on December 1, 2021, after a short illness. He was 88.

James was born on May 3, 1933, in Tacoma.  He attended Lincoln High School and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1955 with a BA degree.  He was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  He married Jean Marie Sliwa on November 12, 1955.  During James’ military service, James and Jean lived in Kitzingen, Germany. Upon returning to Tacoma, James began a 35-year career at Boeing as a purchasing agent.  James and Jean moved to Federal Way in 1964 where they raised four children. 

After marrying Jean, James became interested in Polish culture and traditions that were very strong in the Sliwa family in Tacoma.  Jean’s father, Antoni Sliwa, encouraged him to take an active role in the Polish National Alliance, which is a fraternity insurance and cultural organization. The Tacoma PNA Lodge 156 is the oldest Polish organization in Washington State. It was established in 1890, almost a decade before the Seattle lodge, and it still exists, now serving the whole state. James held different positions at the lodge, from a sales rep to the president, including the most important position of the financial secretary, starting in 1969. He was instrumental in a revival of activities in the 1960s and 1970s such as Polish language classes, dances, dinners, picnics, and commemorations of the Constitution Day on May 3rd and the Polish Independence Day in November. He was active in the PNA Council 57 which promoted cultural and social ties between the Polish communities of Tacoma and Seattle.  From 1979 to 1983, he served as the commissioner of the PNA District 16 representing Washington, Oregon, California, and Arizona at the national level. He had been the PNA Lodge 156 financial secretary since 1995 till his death. James was also very much involved in the Polish Parish of SS. Peter and Paul in Tacoma, especially in the music ministry with his wife Jean who served as an organist there for several decades.  Outside of Tacoma, James belonged to the Polish Home Association of Seattle and the Polish Club of Aberdeen and actively supported both organizations.

James was a loving husband and father.  He enjoyed the outdoors, spending many hours fishing, clamming, foraging berries and mushrooms, gardening, and camping with his family.

James has been reunited with his beloved parents, George and Vera (Shouse) Hicker.  He is survived by his wife, Jean; and four children: Robert (Iwona), Anthony (Betty), Michelle (Christoph) Toth, and Anne Marie; and six grandchildren, Natalia, Zachariah, Anastasia, Zofia, Alexander, and Luiza.  James is also survived by his brother, Thomas, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins. 

A private funeral mass was held at Ss. Peter and Paul Parish for close family.  In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Ss. Peter and Paul Parish Building Fund in Tacoma or The Polish Home Association in Seattle.

More: please contact Robert Hicker