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Christopher

Christopher Hicks

Christopher Hicks, served in Reagan and Bush administrations, Republican Nat’l. Committee
Christopher Hicks, a top administrator in the Reagan White House and former General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, died June 29, 2017 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, after a long illness. He was 66.
Mr. Hicks came to Washington, D.C. in 1980 following the election of President Ronald Reagan. He had been an advanceman for the Reagan-Bush campaign, and was appointed Associate Counsel to the President in 1981, the first of several positions in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
After leaving the White House in 1983 to serve as chief of staff for Treasury Secretary Donald Regan, Mr. Hicks was brought back when Regan and then-White House Chief of Staff James Baker III switched jobs in a notable 1985 reshuffling. After coordinating the Regan-Baker exchange, he served dual roles, supervising President Reagan’s immediate staff as well as the entire staff of the Executive Office of the President. After coming to the White House with no management experience, Mr. Hicks found himself supervising over 500 people, and overseeing combined budgets of more than $175 million. Beginning in 1987, his tenure as General Counsel to the U.S.D.A. extended into the first half of the Bush presidency. Mr. Hicks also served on the Reagan-Bush transition team.
A keen student of American history, particularly the Civil War period, Mr. Hicks would wryly note that early in his career in government, he felt the specter of Watergate. His first job as an attorney was as an associate at the Houston law firm of Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski; his first office in the Old Executive Office Building was once occupied by former Nixon counsel and Watergate whistleblower John Dean.
Mr. Hicks spent years in private practice, with several law firms, representing a large and diverse number of clients. After selecting him as their attorney in a dispute with the neighboring Hopi Nation, Mr. Hicks said, representatives of the Navajo Nation had him take part in a ritual ceremony where he was sprinkled with water from the Potomac River. Another client chose Mr. Hicks to help in seeking U.S.D.A. approval for a novel method of slaughtering beef cattle based on Kosher practices.
After becoming vice-president for governmental relations of the Ethyl Corporation in 1993, Mr. Hicks served as Chairman of the International Trade Commission’s Trade Policy Task Group during the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.) In 2011 he came back to Capitol Hill to serve as General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, working, among other things, on the 2012 Farm Bill.
Along the way Mr. Hicks raised three children, Austin, Adam and Casey, all of Seattle, with his first wife Elizabeth Bellamy, of Knoxville, Iowa; all survive him. He is also survived by his wife, Micaela Shaughnessy and two stepdaughters, Bowman and Tenney Shaughnessy, of Alexandria, Virginia.
Born in Alexandria in 1950, Mr. Hicks spent his first years in Bad Reichenhall, Germany, where his parents had been stationed during the Allied occupation. His father, Jack Wallen, served in the U.S. Army and his mother, the former Joan Buschmann, in the O.S.S. He spoke mostly German until, after his parents’ marriage ended in 1954, his mother came back to Alexandria with Mr. Hicks and his younger brother, Anthony.
After childhood spent with his mother, siblings, and stepfather Charles Hicks in Kokomo, Indiana, Mr. Hicks graduated from Culver Military Academy, where he played varsity football, and Colorado College, where he captained the rugby team. He was a law review editor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, from which he received a J.D. degree in 1977, and where he founded and captained a rugby team. He was subsequently selected as a briefing attorney (law clerk) to the Supreme Court of Texas for the 1977-1978 term.
In addition to his brother, Anthony Hicks of Bloomington, Indiana, half-brother George Hicks, of Arlington, Massachusetts, and half-sister Jacqueline Wallen of College Park, Maryland, Mr. Hicks is also survived by step-sisters Christy Marks of Sacramento, Carol Lawrence of San Antonio, Sarah Spielmann of Dallas, and Jennifer Hicks of Golden, Colorado.
Mr. Hicks was a life-long Republican whose first taste of big-time politics came when he joined the George H.W. Bush presidential campaign in 1979; his interest in national politics continued well after his government service. He was a former Deputy General Counsel to the Republican National Committee, and served a variety of roles in party conventions from 1984 through 2004.
Unable to resist the lure of the hustings one last time, he joined the J. Fred Thompson presidential campaign as lead advanceman in 2007. A fan of musical theater who once performed in a Culver Academy production of “South Pacific,” Mr. Hicks said his personal high point during the short-lived Thompson campaign came at a whistle-stop in Mason City, Iowa, home of “The Music Man” composer Meredith Willson.

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