Daniel Bickey, 68, of Beckley, West Virginia, died July 1st, 2014, surrounded by his wife, children, eldest granddaughter, and only surviving brother, at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, after a long struggle with pulmonary hypertension.
He was born February 8, 1946, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the fourth son of Daniel and Mary Cashavelly Bickey. He graduated from Bassick High School in 1965, where he was a letterman in baseball and football, from Beckley College in 1968, from Concord College in 1972, and he received a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Charleston in 1997.
Bickey married the former Cynthia Morrison in 1967 and she survives him, along with their four children: Matthew (Heidi); George (Heather); Bronwen (Jason Justice); and Melissa (Ryan MacLeod). He is survived by one brother: Nicholas Bickey (Mindy) of Punta Gorda, Florida. He was the Grandfather of Evva Dianne (Chris Allen), Danny, Baxter, and Lucy Bickey; Chloe, Jonah, Olivia, Max and Brody Justice; Maia and Henry Bickey; and Rainer MacLeod. He was the Great-Grandfather of Avery and Atticus Allen.
He was preceded in death by his parents, and his three brothers: Ernest, Theodore, and Vasil Bickey.
In 1976, Bickey founded Mine Power Systems, Inc., an industrial battery distributorship and battery charger manufacturer. He was very proud of two patents he was awarded in 2013 for innovative uses of direct current in battery-operated equipment.
In 1982, he built his first commercial real estate property in Harper Industrial Park in Beckley. From that time forward he built or renovated one building per year, on average. His belief in the importance of building properties descended from his grandfather, George Cashavelly (“Papu”), who worked as a barber for 45 years in Connecticut, and owned three apartment buildings.
Bickey was responsible for the renovation of the Beckley Post Office on North Kanawha Street (now the IRS annex), the Bair Building, the Farris Department Store (now McBee’s Irish Pub), the Silver Brand Men’s Store (now the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre), the Marie Conway Millinery (now the Bake Shoppe, and The Wildfire Saloon), and the F.W. Grant Building (now commercial office space). He was fond of restoring buildings on Neville Street because he met his wife of 46 years while she was working the box office at the Beckley Theatre. He also constructed several buildings in both the Harper Industrial Park and the Raleigh County Airport Industrial Park. In all of these businesses, he was aided by his longtime right hands: Dale Mays, Dianne Bennett, Shirley Dillon, and Valerie Brooks.
After coming to Beckley to attend Beckley College, Bickey worked as a proctor in Dr. John Daniel’s DDD Dormitory on Neville Street, where he also managed Dr. Daniel’s business venture, The Rathskellar, for three years. Bickey always credited Dr. Daniel with giving him his first chance in business, and referred to Dr. Daniel as his first mentor. In his early career, he taught fourth and fifth grade at Bellepoint Elementary School in Hinton, and was a salesman for Burroughs Corporation, where he received sales training he considered invaluable to his career path and success.
Bickey’s past community involvements included Chairman (now known as “President”) of Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of New River Parkway Authority, United Way of Southern West Virginia, Beckley Rotary Club (where he was a Paul Harris Fellow), Mabscott Lion’s Club, Beckley Renaissance Committee, and the Salvation Army. He served as a Chairman of the Board of Advisors at Concord College (now Concord University) and as a Chairman of the Beckley Intermodal Gateway Project. He was the first president of the Beckley College Alumni Association, and he served for a time on the vestry of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and, later, was instrumental in the acquisition of a dome for the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church.
Bickey enjoyed golfing, playing chess, reading history and business books, watching baseball, especially his grandsons’ teams, and the Tampa Bay Rays. For years he attended all the West Virginia Mountaineer football home games, as well as many away games and bowls. The last few years of his life, Bickey traveled extensively abroad with his wife. They visited Ireland four times, which inspired his development of McBee’s Irish Pub, but his favorite trip was one taken in 2004 to the land of his heritage, Greece. He developed the Raleigh Playhouse to help foster the arts in Beckley after taking an interest in theater brought on by his son George’s acting career. He also built a gallery space for the Beckley Art Group, which he dedicated to his wife (The Cynthia Bickey Art Gallery).
Incidentally, he loved sunshine, the beach, Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Va., steamed clams, maple walnut ice cream, Mickey Mantle, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, watching just about any movie on TCM, the great doo-wop groups of the 1950s and 1960s, especially The Drifters, Bob Dylan, Andrea Bocelli, and bar jokes. (One of his favorites: Grasshopper goes into a bar, asks for a beer. Bartender says, “You know, we got a drink named after you.” Grasshopper says: “Ya got a drink named Fred?”)
Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 5th, at the Church of God Family Worship Center, 224 Pinewood Drive, Beckley. The Episcopal Service of Burial of the Dead, Rite I, will be read by Rev. Jon White, rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, beginning at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at Sunset Memorial Park.
Pallbearers will be Nicholas Bickey, Matthew Bickey, George Bickey, Jason Justice, Ryan MacLeod, and Chris Allen.
Honorary pallbearers are: Dave Abrams, Jerry Bays, Dianne Bennett, Bobby Dyer, John Farris, Earl Goodwin, Leonard Harrah, Tom Jenkins, Greeta Joshi, Kerry Lushbaugh, Dale Mays, Robert Martin, Brett Peck, Lew Savisky, Jimmy Smith, Rick Smith, Dan Snead, and Leonard Urtso.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to one of the eight endowment funds Bickey established through the Beckley Area Foundation at RememberingDanBickey.com.
As a man who accomplished so much in life, he was proudest of the family he had created. He will be sorely missed.
Private online condolences and other expressions of sympathy may be directed to the family via the guestbook at www.roseandquesenberry.net.
Arrangements are by Rose and Quesenberry Funeral Home, 1901 S. Kanawha Street, Beckley.
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