John S. Hinckley
JOHN SEELY HINCKLEY
Early on that beautiful morning, Robert H. Hinckley, Jr., age 6, pulled on his clothes and ran downstairs to the kitchen. His mother was not there. Shortly, his footsteps were heard running back up on the stairs. He stopped at his mother’s bedroom door and called, “Do you realize we have a baby boy in the kitchen?” He was delighted. He had a sister and really wanted a brother. He had slept through all the excitement, but one thing was certain. This new little brother would bring him happiness for all the years to come. Thus, John Seely Hinckley, son of Abrelia Seely and Robert Henry Hinckley, came into the world. He was named for his grandfather, John H. Seely, and was always very proud of this honor.
John was 4 years old when the family moved to Ogden from Mt. Pleasant, Utah. By this time, another boy was born to the family, Paul Ray Hinckley. So now, there were three red-headed sons and one brunette daughter in the home at 2560 Jefferson Avenue, Ogden. John and Paul were known as mischief makers. Wherever they were, there was activity and excitement. Betty’s friends would call to see if “the boys” were home. If they were home, the friends preferred to “come another time.”
John received his early education in the Ogden City Schools. He graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. He served three years in the United States Army as an infantry captain. He was stationed in the European Theater during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was sent to Nice, France for a rest period and was later commissioned to head the facility there for war-weary soldiers. It was there he met Anne Miller Holman of Virginia, who was stationed there with the Red Cross. They were married Oct. 20, 1945 in Nice, France.
Following his military service, John graduated from the University of Utah. He began his career in the automobile industry in 1948 when he became president of his father’s Dodge dealership, Robert H. Hinckley, Inc. in Ogden. Throughout his career, he actively participated in the professional growth of the industry. He was president of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association in 1962 and served as president of the National Automobile Dealers Association in 1973.
John believed in improvement of the community through active participation, and his dedication to that belief resulted in his membership on the Ogden City Council, the Utah Safety Council, Board of Directors of the Chamber Ogden/Weber, the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission on Higher Education and the Utah Supreme Court Selection Committee. He was president of the Ogden Rotary Club from 1957-1958, was Chairman of the Weber State College Centennial Gift Campaign from 1986-1989. The college’s capital campaign raised over $16 million for scholarships, programs and equipment. He was chairman of the Weber County Reapportionment Committee, was a member of the board of the Hill Air Force Base Aerospace Museum and served on the board of directors for numerous companies.
John received an honorary doctorate degree from Weber State College in 1989, an honor which he was very proud of. John received the Weber State Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1986. He also received the Weber County Hall of Fame Award. John and Anne were recognized for their commitment to their community by receiving the Chamber Ogden/Weber Hall of Fame award in 1988.
John found out he had cancer in May 1989. He faced his final challenge bravely as he did his time in World War II. He died Oct. 24, 1990 at his home in Ogden. Shortly after the passing of Mr. Hinckley, longtime friend and former Ogden Mayor L. Clifford Goff said, “Ogden has lost a giant. John was the epitome of everything good in the city.”
The John S. Hinckley Fellow Fund was established in November of 1990 to honor the love and devotion Mr. Hinckley had for Weber State University, his community university.