Hicks celebrates 60 years, ticking away at jewelry store

October 5, 2018

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Unlike many, Roger Hicks has been doing exactly what he loves in the exact same business for sixty years now. He has no plans to retire anytime soon. He said,

Roger working on a small watch part behind the counter at Hicks’ Jewelers.

Roger working on a small watch part behind the counter at Hicks’ Jewelers.

“I’m starting my 61st year now. I’m probably the oldest businessman still working in Clare.”

The owner, with wife April, of Hicks’ Jewelry in Clare, Roger said he has been working at the store since he was a teenager and new to the community in 1958. He says his favorite part of the job is precision repair work, something Hick’s Jewelers is famous for.

“I’m a repair man,” he said, “not really a salesman or businessman. “That’s probably why we’re not rich and famous,” he said with a smile.

Samples of his work are all around the little store in downtown Clare. One of his specialties is clock repair. He has even built his own gear maker for a clock, a tool that normally retails for thousands of dollars. His is made from scraps he had laying around the store.

He especially loves rebuilding old timepieces and “bringing them back to life.” The oldest clock he has repaired was made in the 1700s. He has repaired clocks so old they were made with wooden gears.

He has a collection of old an unusual clocks on the tops of shelves in his store. The back of the counter is covered with gears and clocks on the wall. He even makes “house calls,” and goes to remove the workings of an antique clock and bring it back to the store for repair because, he said, if the entire clock was moved there would be a greater chance that it wouldn’t work correctly. He said he loves making his “house calls.”

Hick’s Jewelry Store has been a fixture in Clare since 1981.

Hick’s Jewelry Store has been a fixture in Clare
since 1981.

He learned his trade the old-fashioned way with on-the-job training.

Repairing clocks was Roger’s first job. “Then I graduated to watches,” he said. “I was always mechanically inclined. I’m not a salesman, I just like working with things.”

Roger came to Michigan from Tennessee when he was just 15 years old with his 12-year-old brother Flavious the year after his mother died. His father, unable to care for the two boys, sent them north to live with his older brother Norris Hicks and his wife Janet (Everts) in Clare.

A year later he and Flavious moved in with Norris’s in-laws Howard and Emma Everts, and the boys became their foster sons. That fall, in 1958, he started working part-time at Everts’ Jewelry Store, which was located just east across the alley from the old American Cleaner’s building. A bar and restaurant was on the corner of McEwan and Fifth Street back then. Roger was just 16 years old.

Everts’ Jewelers opened in Clare in 1945. “In 1958, I helped them move the store around the corner to its present location on McEwan Street,” Roger said.

After graduating from Clare in 1961, he started working there full time. Then he met the love of his life April VanHorn and married her in 1964. The couple rented for a couple of years, then moved into their home on Vangee Street around 1968. They raised three sons, David, who has given them two grandchildren, Charlie and Gwen, and helps his Dad manage the business now; and his younger brothers Terry and Mike. And, after 50 years, Roger and April still live in the Vangee Street home on the west side of the city. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he said.

In 1981 Roger and April bought the Clare business from the Everts, who also owned an Evert’s Jewelers in Mt. Pleasant and the couple and their sons David and

Roger, part time clock repair person Ron Snyder, customer Mary Timmins and son Dave Hicks at the jewelry store in downtown Clare.

Roger, part time clock repair person Ron Snyder, customer Mary Timmins and son Dave Hicks at the jewelry store in downtown Clare.

Terry worked there together for many years.

He carried his love of working with things over into his leisure time, joining the Twenty Lakes Antique Engine & Tractor Club about 33 years ago. “I’m fascinated with old engines,” he confessed.

In fact you might see him with his buddy Dan Dysinger at special events around the area. They are the ice cream guys in bib overalls who use an antique John Deere engine, powered by gas or electric these days, to make delicious homemade ice cream for many events around the area like the summer concert by the Mid Michigan Community Band held at the Clare Airport just a few weeks ago.

Although he has no plans for it yet, Roger says he won’t have any trouble keeping busy when he finally does retire. He said, “I’ve got enough projects at home to keep me busy for the rest of my life.”

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *