At age 12, Hicks got his first taste of trucking, riding along with a friend and his father delivering trailers to dealers. As a college student, he earned tuition driving for a contractor building I-96 in Michigan. He later hauled boats to Chicago and New England.
In 2007, Hicks retired after 26 years working for Penray, the maker of cooling system treatments, fuel treatments and shop chemicals; in total he had more than 40 years of experience in the industry.
Hicks joined Penray in 1980 as a territory sales manager and retired as the national OEM liaison, Power Fleet group. In this position, he worked with the engineering, service and production departments of the heavy duty truck manufacturers. He conducted coolant installation quality audits and served as a liaison between original equipment manufacturers' field service management and warranty management.
He was a frequent source for articles in HDT and other industry publications about coolants and related topics.
Hicks received numerous awards and certifications throughout his career. He was a very active member of the Technology and Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations. TMC honored him with its prestigious Silver Spark Plug Award in 1992, and in 2003 he was the second recipient of TMC's Gerri Murphy Membership Award, named for its first director of Member Services and recognizing lifetime and career achievements in support of a growing TMC membership.
In 2010, Trucker Buddy International honored Hicks with an award for his 17 years of service to the group. Hicks first volunteered for the pen-pal program 1993 shortly after Gary King founded it, and eventually served as the organization's president.
Although not a trucker, his job required him to travel long distances, and he faithfully wrote and visited his class at the Arkansas School for the Blind. His volunteer work with the children led to the nickname "Uncle Darrell," a moniker by which he soon became known by most of the trucking industry.
He also was a lifetime member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Fellow TMC Silver Spark Plug Paul Abelson and writer for OOIDA's Lane Line magazine recalls his first meeting with Hicks in an Land Line blog post:
"'Get involved!' They weren't quite the first words Darrell said to me at my first TMC meeting, but it was certainly the theme of his greeting. I later found that the words went beyond just encouragement. They were words that Darrell lived by."
According to OOIDA, Hicks asked that those who wished to send some sort of remembrance send gifts to Trucker Buddy International, 3200 Rice Mine Road NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401; or Your Story Hour, PO Box 15, Berrien Springs, MI 49103.
10/12/2010 Darrell Hicks Honored at TMC Fall Meeting
4/11/2007 Darrell Hicks Retires from Penray After 26 Years
3/20/2003 TMC Honors Trucker Buddy President