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Discussion: Ed Hicks

in: Orienteering; News

Jan 2, 2021 6:10 PM # 
It is with sadness that the HVO Board shares the news of the death of Ed Hicks on New Years Eve. As some of you knew, Ed had been sick for some time. “Fast Eddy”, as he was known in his earlier years, will be sorely missed by those of us who orienteer in the Hudson Valley region and, we are sure, the rest of the orienteering world, who knew him for his friendliness, knowledge and unstinting help and assistance.

We welcome you to share your memories of Ed on this thread.

HVO Board
Jan 2, 2021 6:18 PM # 
The US orienteering community has lost a great educator and resource. He was always reaching out and trying to teach others about orienteering.
Jan 2, 2021 6:43 PM # 
Today I heard from Donna Fluegel about Ed’s passing. He was a fine gentleman and passionate about the sport.

I will miss him.
Jan 2, 2021 7:05 PM # 
Oh goodness, I am sad to hear this news. Ed will be deeply missed by the New England orienteering community.
Jan 2, 2021 9:30 PM # 
Yes, this is a big one.

On a personal level I owe him plenty.
As recently as about one year ago, I was the direct beneficiary of Ed's teaching and assistance referenced above, when he patiently tutored me in relearning the basics of OCAD. I was not an easy student.

On the broader level, I think we collectively owe him even more.
Sine the 1970's when we both were getting started, the recognition level of the word "orienteering" within the American lexicon, has risen tremendously.

More than any other individual, I think Ed Hicks deserves credit for this.
He accomplished this in part through his work within the orienteering mainstream, which was significant, but more importantly by spreading the word and the sport to non-orienteers.
Jan 2, 2021 9:50 PM # 
When I showed an interest in mapping, Ed Hicks volunteered lots of helpful hints. I didn't know enough to formulate a good question, but Ed anticipated my needs and mailed me a package of maps as examples. He was cheerful and eager to help when I needed it. Sad to hear that he is gone.
Jan 2, 2021 9:56 PM # 
This is sad news. Ed helped mappers, and spread the word about orienteering. He was also super nice.
Jan 2, 2021 10:02 PM # 
Sad news indeed. I'll remember Ed as someone always willing to help and especially answer any ocad question.
Jan 2, 2021 11:07 PM # 
Tom O:
So sorry to hear this. I remember many casual interactions with Ed over the years at numerous orienteering events. He was truly one of the friendliest people in the sport. I also appreciated his dedication to education and mapping. I was fortunate enough to take a mapping training seminar from him just a few years ago and was amazed at his command of the material and continuing ability to absorb the latest technological advancements. This is a real loss for US orienteering.
Jan 2, 2021 11:08 PM # 
Ed was always helpful, kind, nice, that grandpa-kind-of-gentleness. Sad, sad.
Jan 2, 2021 11:17 PM # 
Really sad news. Ed was offering me assistance with mapping projects as recently as this fall. Always kind and generous, yet with a mischievous sparkle in his eye, Ed will be sorely missed.
Jan 2, 2021 11:59 PM # 
So much has been said already. It is what I would have said. Sometime about ten years ago I thought I had the opportunity to make some orienteering maps. Ed was a great help with advice and samples. I didn't know why I was so special that Ed was sharing all this advice. Now I know he did that for everybody.
We spent a lot of the time on the phone going over the how-to's of OCAD. I'm not a great distance learner so when the Orienteering Association of Nova Scotia brought Ed for some in-person instruction I hopped on a plane, joined them for the weekend and ever since mapping in Nova Scotia and Florida have looked upward (oh yes New York State, too. But that is another complete story yet to reach fruition.)
But most of all Ed was a very rare commodity in our community - an entrepreneurial orienteer. He seemed to do a good job, for example, showing his map clients how they could recover their costs by selling advertising space around the edges of their maps. He sold orienteering and other maps to clients that many of the rest of us overlook. He is now gone but it remains that every orienteering club needs an Ed Hicks.
Thank you Ed for the years that you gave us and for what I thought was the special advice you were giving me. It still feels special.
Jan 3, 2021 12:21 AM # 
Such sad news. Whenever I would meet Ed at an orienteering event, it was his happiness and enthusiasm for the sport that always came through. He truly loved orienteering, and all of his work through the years did so much to promote our sport. He will be missed.
Jan 3, 2021 12:24 AM # 
He was such a nice guy. Ed was the main man behind Orienteering Unlimited, one of the very few North American O-supply and mapping service vendors. There's a photo of Ed and a short biography on the Orienteering Unlimited website.
Jan 3, 2021 1:17 AM # 
Our friendship with Ed goes back over 40 years. We always considered him to be the "Johnny Appleseed" of orienteering in the US. Ed presented workshops on orienteering at many many teacher and outdoor education conventions all over the country. He recruited us a few times to help him and always encouraged us to do workshops in our own area. He always seemed to have unlimited energy and enthusiasm for our sport.
Jan 3, 2021 2:00 AM # 
Ed was an educator. He loved the sport and worked to teach others to enjoy it. His knowledge of OCAD helped many people to map, whether they were new to mapping or just learning new tools. We have lost an enthusiastic lover of our sport.
Jan 3, 2021 3:33 AM # 
Being a former business partner of my Dad in the early years of Orienteering Unlimited I have basically known Ed my entire life and he was certainly a key member of my orienteering family growing up. Agree with what others have said that through his dedication and passion to teach so many over the decades about orienteering and mapping, he has done as much as anyone to grow our sport in the US and will certainly be missed.
Jan 3, 2021 3:36 AM # 
Ed's passing leaves this earth a poorer place. He loved crossing paths with everyone he met, and connecting with and helping them however he could. Ed and I have been partners in Orienteering Unlimited for the past 16 years, talking for hours several times every week for years, and he has always supported me, given me assistance whenever needed (often), and have helped lots of others without pause.

We will miss you Ed, your spirit and endless enthusiasm for everything orienteering (and all of life) has inspired us all. I will deeply miss being able to call you up and finding endless support, while counting you one of my profoundest friends in this life.
Jan 3, 2021 2:08 PM # 
Ed also helped me a lot with OCAD and map making. Following are photos of him at his class 5/31/19 in Westchester. From even Scotland to Jan Ridge Rd in Somers, he was there and most everywhere for many of us. Thanks for all you did for orienteering, Ed. See you in the woods!
Jan 3, 2021 3:06 PM # 
Sad to hear this, in my time in the US Ed was always knowledgable and welcoming.
Jan 3, 2021 3:45 PM # 
Very sad news indeed. I had the good fortune of calling him a friend since OCAD was being distributed in NA. We spent many hours on the phone talking about mapping and comparing maps we were developing. His friendly demeanour and enthusiasm for our sport always provided me with a boost of energy to do more.
Orienteering has lost a true pioneer.
Jan 3, 2021 5:19 PM # 
Ed was one of the first orienteers I met. The most time that I spent with him was, surprisingly, all the way in Scotland at the WOC in 2015. He had traveled there alone, been in and out of the local hospital and still couldn't keep himself from returning to the event site. More recently, he shared that he was performing home dialysis and somehow the way he described it made it seem like it was not such a big deal ("it's not that bad, really, once you know what you're doing."). His courage and unflagging spirit for life, learning, teaching and orienteering are what I will remember.
Jan 3, 2021 7:09 PM # 
Ed was a wonderful force for education and promotion of orienteering. I love hearing these stories of how he touched so many with his mentorship. He will be sorely missed.
Jan 3, 2021 8:34 PM # 
We are so sorry to hear this news! We first met Ed over 40 years ago when we took a class for new orienteers. To us, Ed was the "energizer bunny" of orienteering, whether he was running in the woods, teaching a class, selling O' equipment, map making or promoting orienteering somewhere. He always seemed to love what he was doing. We will miss him, HVO will miss him and orienteering in general will miss him! There is an orange and white orienteering flag hanging on the pearly gates waiting for Ed to find! May Ed rest in peace! Annette & Bill Borowitz
Jan 3, 2021 11:20 PM # 
What sad news. I don't think I can add much that hasn't already been said. I will say that Ed seemed to know everyone in orienteering and he always had some nice words to say to me and others. What an impact one person had on our sport! He will absolutely be missed.
Jan 3, 2021 11:20 PM # 
What struck me about Ed from the early days was how interested he was in how our local club was coming along. I'd see him occasionally at a national meet and he would unfailingly ask, "How are things in Buffalo?", in a really sincere way - like it was important to him that our little club would become successful. And more recently, as others have noted, he was super helpful with OCAD. When I finally migrated to a tablet for field checking, he treated me to a whole "workshop" on the phone about how to get the most out of it. I will miss him greatly.
Jan 4, 2021 1:00 AM # 
Jeff Osborn:
Ed introduced me to Orienteering in 1981. a dozen years later he taught our sons. Another decade later he taught the members of my Scout troop, A few years ago he helped me teach O' at our local Scouting University, a one day seminar for Scout leaders. He also introduced me to GPS & course setting. As others have mentioned, He was unfailingly willing to volunteer at local meets, even after becomng seriously ill.

I'm very grateful for the many maps he created or updated; I suppose I've orienteered on a dozen of them. He was a tremendous help to HVO in many ways.

And of course, he was a sweet, gentle, kind, fatherly figure. I'm grateful to have known him for 40 years.
Jan 4, 2021 4:53 AM # 
My condolences to his friends and family. He was truly a representative of our sport.
On a 3 hour bus ride in Scotland a few years ago, Ed and a couple of us talked non stop in the back of the bus. What a great guy, surely will be missed.
Jan 4, 2021 11:00 AM # 
Tom Gloor:
It is with sadness that we noticed that Ed has passed away. Our sincere condolences to his family and close friends. We knew Ed as a great supporter of Orienteering and he was one of the first OCAD users in North America. As a reseller and trainer of our OCAD software, we met him personally several times in Europe and the USA and were always impressed by the enthusiasm and strength with which he supported Orienteering until shortly before his death. We are grateful to Ed for his tireless commitment to orienteering and will keep him as such in our memory. Thomas Gloor, on behalf of OCAD Team
Jan 4, 2021 2:21 PM # 
I never got to know Ed all that well, unfortunately.

But the times I did speak with him I was very impressed by all the things he had done for the sport. I probably spent far too long going through his binder of maps that he often brought to events.

For me, Ed represents a member of an incredibly hard-working generation who helped make it possible for us to enjoy this sport today in our great terrain.

I am grateful for the work he did to bring us to where we are.
Jan 4, 2021 6:51 PM # 
My sincere condolences to Ed’s family and all who knew him.
Exactly 25 years before Ed’s departure, on January 1, 1996, Eugene Granovsky introduced me to him.
Together we made more than three dozens of projects/maps – mainly during 1996-1999.
About two month ago, I had a longer – almost two hours conversation with Ed. It wasn’t the last one, but it definitely served as a farewell. We recalled every single project we made together, starting from February 1996 and discussing the ongoing one of the Alley Pond Park permanent course.
Strangely enough, I finalized the Alley Pond Park permanent courses’ layouts and sent them to NYC Parks on New Years Eve – at the very same time when he was on his way to eternity.
When the courses will be posted on NYC Parks website, I encouraged everyone to run on any of the Alley Pond permanent courses – not only for having fun and discover a new terrain, but also to pay tribute to Ed, to his last O-project.
Thank You Ed, for all help and support you gave me and the whole O-community.
Jan 4, 2021 11:24 PM # 
I only got into Orienteering in about 2006, thanks to Sherry Litasi from RMOC. I was studying GIS at Front Range CC in Longmont, CO. Sherry told me to reach out to Ed Hicks as soon as possible. OCAD was just beginning to adapt to GIS standards and using GIS shapefiles after being a nothing more than a vector drawing program. Ed was constantly providing feedback to OCAD and the software we have today is so much more powerful, in part thanks to Ed's guidance and a clear understanding of the software and it's capabilities. He was also a pioneer in using GPS driven electronic devices for field verification, which made map making more accurate and sped up the process. Always innovating, always teaching, always promoting the sport. In 2009, we started a program at Philmont Scout Ranch called "Orienteering and Scouting". Ed helped us to map several locations at Philmont and the course has developed from one week of orienteering education to include a second week called Map Your Camp. Ed has provided lots of curriculum to support this new course offered the first time this summer at Philmont. Ed joined me and our mapping team at Summit Bechtel Reserve in 2013 for the National BSA Jamboree, where he helped us develop the map that we would eventually use for the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, held at the same location. Without his guidance and encouragement, our small, but effective team would never have completed this spectacular map. We will continue to honor him by proudly displaying the Orienteering Unlimited logo proudly as he supported our mapping efforts financially. I spent a weekend at his home when he turned 78. We went to his family's church on Palm Sunday, celebrated his birthday and toured some of the many sites he had mapped over the years. Ed was a great mentor, a loyal advisor and a dear friend, truly a pioneer in orienteering in the USA and a man and a family I shall cherish for years to come. I'll bet he is already asking St. Peter for the "projections and coordinate systems" so he can start mapping the heavens!
Jan 5, 2021 2:10 PM # 
So much has already been said and I can only add to how kind, approachable, and genuine Ed was, how sincere and enthusiastic he was about growing the sport we all love. I will miss him very much. Thank you Ed and sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Jan 5, 2021 4:33 PM # 
Agree with Karen. He was just an all around great guy. So sincere and passionate about orienteering.
Jan 8, 2021 6:04 AM # 
It appears that orienteering was just the tip of the iceberg for Ed...
Jan 8, 2021 2:48 PM # 
Ed truly was a special person. I always thought of him as an entrepreneur, an educator, and an evangelist for our sport. But, I will always remember him for the twinkle he had in his eye. The eyes are of course a window to the soul. In Ed's eyes you could see a rainbow. No artifice. Just joy. That stays with you.
Jan 8, 2021 5:22 PM # 
I always knew Ed as an interesting guy, and reading his obit educated me on how incredibly ambitious and giving he was to the world around him. Ed and I spoke occassionally about OCAD, I admit I should have taken more advantage of his knowledge. My favorite story though, was in a letter to ONA about a trip he was taking in Switzerland, noticed some orienteers along the road, stopped, and discovered it was Team members Samantha and Sandra! He seemed so taken to meet them in their "enviroment" . Truly will be missed.
Jan 9, 2021 11:14 AM # 
This is a sad shock. I miss you, Ed!
I think fondly of the many mapping and orienteering promotion schemes Ed dragged me into over the years. He was responsible for many of the maps that got made in the Hudson Valley in the the 80’s and early 90’s. Blue Mountain, with Eric Weyman, was my first professional orienteering mapping gig. Ed was primarily responsible for making that happen. Not sure if I’m remembering correctly, but I think it was still Westchester Orienteering Club at that point, which I think Ed was president of (which joined with Ramapo Orienteering Club and became HVO).
I feel sure that if there is a Heaven, Ed is scheming to get it mapped, and developing an orienteering instruction manual for angels of all ages!
Jan 17, 2021 1:02 PM # 
Ed certainly carried his enthusiasm for "O" mapping wherever he visited, and to great effect. He understood that to grow and sustain interest in the sport, those who enjoyed the challenge of reading and navigating a well crafted map need to be nurtured and that orienteering was more than "just a run in the woods". His legacy will be carried forward by those who heard his message.
Jan 18, 2021 12:24 AM # 
Hearing of Ed Hicks passing from Eric Weyman and Bob Burg early this New Year, I have taken some time to write a remembrance of him.

I may have met Ed Hicks at some point in my first years in the sport, but my first real memory of Ed Hicks relates to the Convention that he and Bill Shannon put on in 1980. That may have been the best Convention I have ever attended. I had graduated only a few years earlier from IUP and was a four year member of IUPOC, a quite active and competitive college club, and had moved to eastern PA and joined DVOA. DVOA was a small club at the time - not much larger than my college club was. In 1980, I decided to go to my first ever USOF (OUSA) Convention that year. Since that Convention, I have told many that I felt reborn into the sport.

Ed and Bill had organized a great set of programs, and it was hard to decide which I should attend at the time because they were all so interesting to me. I decided to attend a series of programs presented by Jack Lee and Jim Gilchrist that completely changed my viewpoint of the sport. Caroline and Kent Ringo had told me a few times during my first year or so how important beginners and non-competitors were to the sport, but I came from competitive heritage so I didn’t take it seriously at the time. It wasn’t until Ed and Bill’s convention that what they said really sunk in. Listening to Ed Hicks, Bill Shannon, Jack Lee, and Jim Gilchrist speak about the sport led me to return to DVOA with specific ideas on how to grow the sport. These ideas and methods were over time adopted by DVOA and inspired the start-up of DVOA Educational Services.

From that point forward, Ed became one of those individuals who I highly regarded for his knowledge, wisdom, ideas and unrelenting enthusiasm for the sport I had fully adopted into my way of life. I always looked forward to seeing Ed at national and local events, for he would inform me on what was new and available to read about in the sport. I remember that there were many times when I would be on my way to registration or start and pass by his display and he would stop speaking with someone and shout something like ‘Mark, stop by when you get a chance, I want to speak to you about something’. I can remember on multiple occasions the twinkle in his eyes and his funny smile when he had something exciting to tell me about. Ed’s enthusiasm was contagious and boosted my desire to continue to market the sport. Over the years he would always want to show me the maps he was working on and what methods were being used to teach people about the sport. His methods have been utilized by many and have indirectly become a part of the fond memories to thousands of beginners when they first learned about the sport. He would talk to me about the groups he was meeting and how with the right amount of cooperation the sport could grow. More recently, as I began to plan for what happens when I retire, he became a great source of information on mapping. This past autumn, when I had problems with my install of OCAD, he immediately provided me with the information to correct the issue. Even though he was not feeling well, he was there for me and many others.

When I look back at the early years of the sport, there are many individuals who played important roles in the development of orienteering but never really received the recognition. I believe Ed Hicks stands out on this list as someone who continued to inspire us to enjoy orienteering, the outdoors itself, and the many friendships it has brought to us all. Ed was deserving of our sport’s highest recognition and I believe Ed should be the first ever to receive the Silva Award posthumously.
Dec 28, 2021 4:46 AM # 
This Saturday, January 1, 2022, on the first anniversary of Ed's passing into eternity, a memorial orienteering event will take place at Fort Lee Historic Park, Fort Lee, NJ.
A completely new sprint map will be offered. The format of the event is Score-O with twist. The idea of this format is taken from event held by HVO on January 1, 1996, at the very same venue. Learn more at

This discussion thread is closed.