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A Nomad's Notes: A local with a personality that lights up our lives

I don’t remember when I was informed that Sam Hickman exists. It must’ve been my first day on the job, when my former boss told me who I was replacing at the office, quickly adding that she meant replacing in job only, because Sam himself was irreplaceable.

It didn’t take me but meeting Sam a few times to know how true that is.

Those first times that I met Sam were at the Brunswick County Courthouse, whenever I had a question about something that I knew he could answer, because he was willing to help his old buddies at the Beacon out any way he could. I could tell early on there was something special about him. He was one of those people that you would just call a really nice guy. That’s the easiest way to describe it.

I’ve been saying for years there are certain people out there who are suns to the rest of us — warm, unique and utterly unforgettable. I still consider Heath Ledger one. And Sam Hickman is absolutely one of those. In those early days going out into the field when I told people I was new to the position, I would tell them, “I’m the new Sam Hickman,” and about 90 percent of the time they would smile real big and either tell me how much they love him, how great they think he is or share a story or anecdote about him. There are more people in this entire county who know Sam Hickman than who don’t.

He’s our local sun.

So when I heard he was returning to the Beacon in spring 2017, I was freaking out in a mostly good way, albeit nervous because such a legend who’d had the position I was in was coming back to work with us. I wanted to be impressive enough. I wanted to do the job proud in front of someone who had done the job proud. But I got nothing but encouragement and empathy from Sam even before and after he accepted the sports editor position with us. He knew the struggle of writing myriad crime stories with all the painstaking details required.

He knew what it was like to have a growing story list because of crime. He knew the long and unpredictable hours and he still remembered exactly how to do it all. If I had a question I would (and still do) just get up and walk behind me to his little cubicle area to ask him about a crime or education story or lament with him on a tough task.

If I do write a good story, or if any of us does, he’ll sit there as he’s reading it for editing and proclaim loudly how good it is. You know he’s completely serious and isn’t just flattering you. It’s one of the highest compliments you can receive.

Anytime he comes into our office, be it with his kids, a bag from Wendy’s or Burger King or just himself, I immediately grin with the good energy he brings with him. I can’t tell you the amount of notebooks I have at the office and at home filled with random funny quotes he’s said throughout the day. Just the other day I found one and laughed for two full minutes.

I know this isn’t my longest column, but really it’s because I can only write so much about Sam before saying, “You just have to meet him.” And when you meet him, you’ll know within two seconds exactly what I’m talking about here. He’s just one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

So the other day when it was announced he would be our new editor-in-chief at the Beacon, he couldn’t see from behind his cubicle how big I was grinning, but I was grinning so much to the point of pain. Because Sam is one of the calmest, most rational, kindest people I’ve known in my near-28 years here on this Earth. And I know all those qualities will translate perfectly into his new job.

That boy is going to be a legend. He already is one. And, Sam, I can’t express how much we all love you for who you are. Every day I’m grateful that the universe put you in my way. So keep on making us proud, something I shouldn’t even have to say here. Because I already know you will.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com