Hicks Auto Body hailed as a ‘legacy business’ after 52 years on Talbot Avenue

Mattapan’s Aisha Miller takes a photo with Willie Hicks Sr. under the new memorial sign as hundreds gathered on Saturday to congratulate him on going strong for 52 years in the same location.

Willie Hicks Jr. said his father found a path to success in fixing cars better than anyone else.

When he was growing up in 1950s South Carolina, a young man named Willie Hicks Sr. wanted to be a doctor, but being a Black man there in those days, he found that few colleges were interested in training him, and that society had no interest in allowing him to practice medicine.

So he headed north, to Syracuse, NY, where he did what he was good at: fixing cars, and racing them, too. In the mid-1950s, he left New York state and settled in Boston, where he married his wife Barbara, raised a family, and bought into a repair shop on Terrace Street in Mission Hill.

When the planned I-95 highway project was scheduled to plow through the location of their shop (it eventually did not), he left for Dorchester in 1970 and settled in the current location.

The Hicks family has now been doing business under the Hicks Auto Body name for more than 50 years at the nexus of Blue Hill Avenue, Talbot Avenue, and Harvard Street. They even have kept the phone number they received in 1970.

“I’m nervous, excited, and happy,” said Hicks Sr., 85, last Saturday afternoon when more than 100 friends, family, and business associates joined elected officials to honor the legacy business and name the square in Hicks Sr.’s honor.

Nowadays, the business is in the hands of Willie Hicks Jr. who is continuing the tradition. A standout football player at Concord-Carlisle High School and then at Boston College, Hicks Jr. said his father was the best mentor and boss he could wish for.

“His dream was to become a doctor, but times were different then; let’s just say the Ivies might not have been pursuing the best talent in the South,” he said. “He had to change his course…He had to do what most of us do in life because it’s not perfect; he had to deal with the cards dealt to him.

“At the young age of 31, he purchased this place, and since then we have been blessed to have the same name, the same ownership, and the same phone number and address,” said Hicks Jr.

City Councillor Brian Worrell, who hosted the event, said” it’s amazing to have a Black-owned family business thriving into the 21st century on Blue Hill Avenue and an honor to be able to celebrate a strong, legacy business in our community.”

Mayor Wu and Economic Development and Inclusion Chief Segun Idowu noted that Hicks Auto Body is the second company on Blue Hill Avenue to earn a new “legacy business” designation, the city having honored Allan’s Formal Wear earlier this year.

“For a business to have been here since 1970 and having passed this on to the next generation and to show up day in and day out…this is a blessing for all of us,” said Wu. “We’re going to do everything we can to keep businesses in our community that serve and support families in our community for decades to come.”

Said Hicks Jr. of his father today: “It’s amazing because I get to see him from sunup to sundown. … I go to work every day unlike everyone else because I would literally die for my boss. As the saying goes, ‘If you don’t seize your moment in time, history will record that you never lived at all.’”

Following the presentations, the Hicks family and elected officials unveiled the new corner memorial sign that reads, "Willie E. Hicks Sr. Path." It is located on the traffic island where Talbot Avenue and Harvard Street meet.

Willie Hicks Jr., Barbara Hicks, and Willie Hicks Sr. join Mayor Wu on Saturday at Hicks Auto Body’s “legacy business’ celebration.

Willie Hicks Sr. said he was “nervous, excited, and happy” to be honored as a “legacy business” and to have with a corner memorial in his name.

Councilor Brian Worrell and Willie Hicks Sr. unveil the new corner sign proclaiming the area ‘Willie E. Hicks Sr. Path.’


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