As many of you may have heard by now, Mickey "Santa Claus" Hicks, WO6T passed away Sunday, August 9. He was 79. For the past 38 years, Hicks, a ham for almost 50 years and a long-time Amateur Radio instructor, would get on the air for 10 days each December as W6S (Whiskers-6-Santa). ARRL Youth Editor Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM, profiled Hicks in December 2008: "The Amateur Radio community has been quick to embrace the W6S operation. Mickey says that the first year operating as W6S was 'a hit with the operators of all ages and their children.' Mickey noted that most children are a bit apprehensive of talking over the radio, let alone to Santa! He said one of the most challenging parts of operating is when he hears 'This one is shy and won't talk.' That's not a problem for Mickey -- he says after a few warm-up questions (such as 'Can you say hello to Rudolph?'), he can strike up a conversation that lasts a few minutes. He has even heard back that the parents weren't able to get the microphone away from the kids afterward!" Hicks told the ARRL in 2001 that his Santa's Workshop has been a great ham radio recruiting tool. One of his most memorable experiences was when a young girl he'd once spoken with on the air as Santa came by with her ham ticket in hand to thank him in person for getting her interested. "I had tears in my eyes, of course," he said. Mark Slater, WI6J --Hicks' QSL manager -- said Hicks was an avid DXer, contester and rag chewer: "He had a passion for radio and making new friends through the hobby he enjoyed so much. Mickey will be greatly missed." Slater said that he will continue to confirm WO6T/W6S QSL requests "indefinitely." Hicks, of Bakersfield, California, was a member of the ARRL A-1 Operator Club and a long-time member of the ARRL, the Northern California DX Foundation, the Central Valley DX Club and the Kern County Central Valley Amateur Radio Club. -- Thanks to The Daily DX for providing some information for this story
This was very sad news for us. As many of you may know, Ashby (KJ4EGJ) was fortunate enough to speak with Mickey ("Santa") last year. It was a joy, and she had so much fun. They talked about lots of things, and even about Santa's healthier eating habits. When Ashby didn't know what to ask Santa for, he was prompt in telling her what the best present of all would be. From then on, it was popular news that Santa was bringing Ashby a purple and yellow salmon for Christmas. Here's a link to an article written about Ashby's contact with Santa by Duncan MacLachlan, featured on ARRL early this year, about midway down the page:
Please keep Mickey's family and friends, and the many children that he blessed over the years, in your prayers.