People of Etowah – Marilee Hickman


Name: Marilee Hickman

Where were you born and raised?

“I was born and raised in Gadsden.”

What is your occupation?

“I retired in August from Regions Bank after a 41 year career.”

What made you decide to work in your field? 

“Years ago, I was working in insurance and decided that I wanted to move in another direction. My close friend Sherry Conner helped me obtain a position at First Alabama Bank, now known as Regions Bank. I worked in almost every area of the bank and was assistant vice president and assistant manager of the Gadsden main office when I retired.”

Tell us about your family and pets. 

“My parents were Benny and Lola Marie (Allison) Steward. I have a brother Benny, Jr. (Suzette) and their children Mary (Morgan), Laura (Kip and Allison), Katy (Will) and Kimberly (Joshua). I have been married to Gerald Hickman for 35 years, and we do not have any children. We do, however, have eight cats and four dogs. They are not all in our house but they are well and safe and loved as family. My pastor used to say that there must be a flashing sign out in the pet world that reads ‘If you are homeless, go to the Hickmans’ and then ‘Vacancy.’”

Describe an average day in your life. 

“When I was employed, my day started at the bank, and after work the real living began. Every Tuesday night we have dinner with our friends and have been doing this for over 30 years. On Wednesday night, we head to our church for Bible study and fellowship. I will now have time to spend with those great nieces and look forward to spending more time with Gerald.”

What school or schools have you attended? 

“I attended Etowah Avenue Grammar School and went to General Forrest Junior High. I was an Emma Sansom High graduate and finished up my schooling at Gadsden State Community College and Jacksonville State University. I have a degree in social work but have never worked in that field. I guess you can say that in the banking world, a social work background is interwoven in the interaction with my customers.”

What do you like to do in your free time? 

“Free time? Now, it is going to become a reality in my life.I love cooking and aways cooked somewhat, but when I turned 50 it seems that the Martha Stewart gene kicked in and now I am serious about it. I have had both successes and failures, but what fun I have had. I also will be taking a more active role in our church. Of course, Gerald and I will be able to visit our little home in Pigeon Forge more often. Last, but not least, I will be spending time with family.”

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment? 

I can say with a most humble heart that it is being a servant to others. I receive the greatest sense of accomplishment when someone is helped. I love my family and God has given me opportunity after opportunity to be there for them and hold me together all the way. My employment always felt like a mission field to me. I didn’t always have success in helping others, but my intentions were to do so. I love people and feel that God has us here for a purpose and that is to serve others to the best of our ability.”

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?

“My parents, Benny and Lola Marie Steward. Together they taught me as a child about the way God wants us to live. They allowed me to learn through success and failures and were my biggest supporters. Together, they helped shape me into the woman I am today, and I am forever grateful.”

To what do you credit your success?

“Working hard, respecting others, being humble, seeking truth, loving God and never giving up, no matter how rough life can be at times.”

Are you involved in any service organizations? 

“I am not involved in any service organization at this time. Years ago, I was a member of the Gadsden Exchange Club. In fact, I was the first female member went on to be the first female president of the club. What an honor! I loved every meeting and all the members, many of whom are no longer with us. It was a wonderful experience.”

What is your favorite thing about this community? 

“Gadsden is such a beautiful city and we get to experience all four seasons. Our city has just about everything a town could need and our medical facilities rival none.”

What would you like to see change in the community? 

“A passion of mine is a way to offer Senior Day Care Program for our community. There are so many who could benefit from this service. A program could provide activity, interaction and socialization for those otherwise homebound. It could be a place for mental stimulationand something to look forward to every day. It might also enable a family member to work outside the home while their loved one was taken care of.”

What are three words that describe you? 

“Sincere, grateful and happy.”

What is something surprising that many do not know about you?

“In my younger days, I applied to serve our country in the Peace Corps. I am still sorry that it did not materialize.”

What is your favorite quote? 

“I learned this at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”-Henry David Thoreau.

What is on your bucket list? 

“A trip to Italy.”

What is your hidden talent?

“Baking and cake decorating. I want to take more classes now that I am retired.”

If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?

“Lucille Ball.”

What advice would you give yourself as a child? 

“Obey your parents, play fair and enjoy being a child. We are children for such a short period of time and grown up for years, so don’t try to grow up too fast.” 

If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email or call 256-547-1049.

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