Ely Mayor Jon Hickman was found deceased in his home late Tuesday afternoon by White Pine County Police officers as part of a welfare check. After not hearing from Hickman, the mayor’s longtime friend Phil Fickes called the sheriff’s department to check on Hickman.
“Nobody had seen or heard from him today so someone was concerned and called into our office for a welfare check,” Sheriff Dan Watts said. “We went down there and he was deceased of natural causes.”
Fickes, who had just spent the weekend in Wendover with Hickman, said the mayor seemed fine during their trip.
“He’s my friend. I’m sort of taken back. I never expected this,” Fickes said. “We ate breakfast together on Sunday at the Peppermill. Everything seemed to be fine when we came back.”
Watts pointed out there were no signs of foul play at Hickman’s home were he was found.
Hickman had a long history of health issues. He was a diabetic from age 15, and in 2001 he had a kidney and pancreas transplant that resulted in the loss of his toes on both feet. In October of 2011, the mayor took a medical leave to fight a cancerous growth in his throat.
In a March, 2012 issue of the Ely Times, Hickman addressed his battle with cancer, saying he wasn’t sure if he was going to make it.
“Having cancer, I’m going through radiation and chemo and all that, you start wondering to yourself if I really am going to get through this.”
According to Fickes, Hickman rarely let his struggles show.
“He was having blood pressure problems. You never knew with Jon. He never really complained that much. He would sometimes stand up real fast and get dizzy or something like that,” Fickes said.
Fickes became concerned after Hickman didn’t return his calls. When he said the mayor’s truck parked outside of his house, he went and knocked on his door, but received no answer.
“I went down to city hall and asked if anyone had seen Jon today and they said no. I said ‘I think someone should go down and check out his house.’ That’s when they called the police for a welfare check and that’s when they found Jon,” Fickes said.
“He’ll be missed.”
Said Gov. Brian Sandoval: “I was saddened to learn of the death of Jon Hickman this morning. Jon had a deep love for the city of Ely and its people and his leadership will be missed. Kathleen and I extend our deepest condolences to Jon’s family and friends.”