Former Commercial Appeal sports reporter Pete Wickham dies of cancer
Pete Wickham, who spent nearly 14 years with The Commercial Appeal, died on Saturday of cancer. His son Tim confirmed the news through a Facebook post.
Wickham, 68, worked as both a sports reporter and copy editor from 1981-95. He covered high school sports, SEC football, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and other major sporting events while contributing columns as well.
Gary Robinson, who was The Commercial Appeal’s deputy sports editor from 1986-2002, said Wickham was great at working quickly, whether it was editing or turning around an assignment. He not only wrote with wit but intelligence to help readers better understand a subject.
“He was one of the smartest guys I’ve ever known. Beating him in Trivial Pursuit, I rank up among my higher accomplishments in life,” Robinson said. “He was always very quick with a quip and always looking to go deeper into a subject based on his knowledge.”
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After working as the director of public relations for Memphis Motorsports Park and the Arena Football League’s Memphis Pharaohs, Wickham moved to St. Louis to become director of public relations for Gateway International Raceway from 1996-2003.
He returned to journalism as a freelance writer and later worked at the Jackson Sun from 2005-07. Wickham began his career working for the Atlantic City Press in Philadelphia from 1975-1981.
“He was surrounded by countless cards and the smell of freshly baked gingersnaps,” Tim Wickham wrote on Facebook. “There was no pain and no fear at the end as he knew that he was not, and never had been, alone in all of this.”
Pete Wickham had surgery in April 2020 to remove a malignant tumor in his brain. While he recovered, he devoted even more time to his family and traveled when his health permitted.
Robinson said that when the two spoke, Wickham almost never discussed being sick, but he talked about the news of the day or how proud he was of his children. Redbirds general manager Craig Unger also expressed his condolences through Twitter citing how often Wickham attended games with his son Matt.
“My heart breaks. Pete loved AutoZone Park, loved the Redbirds. Pete would bring Matt regularly to AZP. Matt always had a Diet Coke in hand,” Unger wrote. “Pete loved Matt more than anything else in this world and baseball was the bond.”
Per his son Tim, a memorial service will be held later to accommodate his father’s final wishes. The family also asked that instead of flowers, friends and loved ones donate to their local food bank.
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