Seven years today, a new assistant started at our office. She was cheery and seemed quite competent. But you never know. I hoped she’d be a good fit. Wrong. Kathy Hickman became the face and heart of our operation and our friend. I tell people in interviews that basically I have two requirements: 1) you must possess top notch competence, and 2) I want to look forward to seeing you every morning. And I have for 7 years. Until yesterday morning when she was taken too soon, too suddenly, under incomprehensible circumstances.

Without exception, I walked into the office every morning to a cheery greeting and warm smile. And it seemed that no matter what I gave her to do, it was met with, “Sure. I can do that.” She had the unique ability to provide a sense of calm and assurance to new callers. Not a small talent given the state of mind most people are in when they call a divorce lawyer.

Over time, we spoke in shorthand. Or didn’t speak at all. Our running joke was, when asked if she could do something, was her oft-stated reply, “I’ve already taken care of it” or “it’s on your desk.” And she’d smile.  Smart aleck. And I’d say, “of course you have! Why didn’t you tell me sooner I’d want that done!”

At our yearly retreat up North, Kathy always had a finger on the pulse of our operation and how we could improve our services to clients. It was Kathy that came up with our tagline, “Good People Doing Good.” She believed passionately in our mission to be a soft-landing for those passaging through divorce or custody battles, or assisting elderly parents and other legal challenges. We do it differently here and Kathy got that in spades and helped make it happen.

And she could laugh. We had more fun than is legal in a law firm! We talked about our weekends and children and families and husbands and God. We spread placemats on the conference table and shared lunch. Okay, we are all bad about eating at our desks but we tried and always enjoyed it when we did. We shared a love of Biggby Coffee and would make a run when we could. We saw plays and attended concerts. We have tickets for one next Friday night. Even visited the casino once and attended a paint party. She was far more than an assistant. She was our friend. We are in pain that will not leave us for awhile.

If you are a client of ours or have ever called our office, you encountered her warm professionalism. We’ve heard from many of you. There was a time when I experienced loss in my life and Kathy told me she had lit a candle for me at church. I invite anyone who would like to do so to drop a candle by our office, or mail it if you’re a distance away, and we will light them in her honor. A light is gone in our office. It would be nice to completely cover her reception counter with lights. IMG_9900

If you are a praying person, please remember her family to whom she was completely devoted. And Meghan and I could use a prayer or a hundred ourselves.

Thank you Kathy for all you were to us,

Deb and Meghan




  1. Angel Rizzo 9 years ago

    We had just moved to Michigan a few weeks prior to me starting in your office and I had gone back to work after being a stay at home mom for 7 years. Your office was my first experience back in the workforce after all that time and Kathy was my first coworker. No matter how badly I failed at it, Kathy was a light to me. She was wonderful to work with and made my transition back into the workforce in a new state so effortless and comforting. She was a calming presense and beautiful inside and out. A month ago I had the opportunity to see her and hug her and enjoy her beautiful smile one last time… though I did not know it would be the last. I’m more grateful for that day now. She will be missed and my heart hurts knowing she isn’t here anymore. Words cannot express the sorrow I feel for her family, her friends and her co-workers. My condolences to everyone.

  2. Ted Kuball 9 years ago

    I didn’t know Kathy personally, but on occasion we crossed paths in the hallway outside your office when I was on my way to my little space on the third floor at the other end of the building. She was always very pleasant and presented with a happy smile and greeting. My thoughts and prayers are with all in your firm who knew and worked with her.
    Dr. Ted Kuball

  3. Trudy 9 years ago

    Deb, what a beautiful tribute to Kathy! I’m saying many prayers for everyone!

  4. Amee 9 years ago

    I am so sorry for your loss I remember what a beautiful smile she had and how welcoming she was whenever we visited your office. RIP Kathy and prayers to your family and friends. <3 Amee

  5. Heather Castonguay 9 years ago

    My heart is heavy with grief and my eyes filled with tears as I read your touching tribute to a very special woman. Kathy will be dearly missed by many. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and with you and Meghan.

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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

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