In Memoriam – Robert Hicks (1917 – 2013)
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Robert Hicks, Q.C., B.A., LL.B. Bob passed away on November 3, 2013 in his 97th year. He was the beloved husband of Mary Constance Pattinson; father of Peter, Douglas and Nancy; and proud Grandfather of Robert, Leslie and Stephen.
Bob was a pioneer in the development of the practice of labour law. As Canada’s first full time management labour lawyer, Bob Hicks has left a legacy. He has given this country the realization of the unique role labour law lawyers play with their clients – sound legal advice while recognizing the characteristics of a client’s business, employees and unions.
In 1972, under Bob’s leadership our firm was created. He was the firm’s first managing partner – a position he held for ten years. He was proud to watch us grow to over 115 lawyers in five offices. In 1943, Bob appeared in the earliest reported labour law case dealt with by the Ontario Supreme Court which then had jurisdiction over labour law certifications. Bob acted for the Company, Professor Bora Laskin for the trade union and J.J. Robinette for the employees. In 1948, Bob began practising labour law exclusively when labour law jurisdiction was transferred to the Labour Relations Board. Bob sensed that his “specialty” of labour law would succeed better if practiced separately. As a stepping stone, in 1957 he joined with others in forming Miller, Thompson, Hicks, Sedgewick, Lewis and Healy. Differing business cultures and approaches led eight of the ten labour lawyers there to depart in 1972 to create Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP.
Bob Hicks has been instrumental to all of us who practice at this firm – whether we practiced with him or succeeded him. Bob set the gold standard on client relations. The scope of his activities went well beyond the norm. For many years he was a sought after advisor on labour legislation to Prime Ministers and Premiers alike. In performing the work he loved, the client came first for Bob, no matter what the demands. He was unselfish to a fault and provided proactive leadership in everything he did. He was creative and imaginative in his approach to find solutions. Bob grew to become an icon and legend in the labour law field.
Bob was a former President of the Toronto Board of Trade, and of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. His Corporate Directorships included Colgate-Palmolive [CKR], Gray Coach Lines, St. Lawrence Cement and Wabasso Cottons; and he acted as lawyer for Canada’s Olympic Gold Medalist in Skating, the late Barbara Ann Scott [King].
Bob was a member of the Ontario Government Committee on Labour Arbitration ; member of the Bennett Commission on Collective Bargaining in Ontario Public Hospitals [1963-64]; member of the Federal Arbitration Tribunal [1968-72]; Counsel to Project on Communications and Information Committee on Government Productivity in Ontario ; and Counsel to Study Regarding the Medical Profession commissioned by the Ontario Medical Association .
Bob was a member/adherent of Kingsway-Lambton United church for over fifty years and Lambton Golf and Country Club for over forty years. His hobbies included travelling with his wife to over forty countries, improvising popular music on his piano and much-loved organ, reading, golf, bridge and writing novels and short stories.
Bob will be remembered for his excellent judgment and his unusually fair and honest principles. His legacy will live on in the work we all do at Hicks Morley.
He will be missed.