32 November/December 2014 | BethesdaMagazine.com
would come out and hug Mrs. Hickey.
And they looked at me like, ‘who’s he?’ ”
“I felt like something was lost,” he
tells me one sunny afternoon at the
historical society. “Then I got involved
here, and I really began to get back into
a community. It really helped to restore
my sense of place, who I am and where
Folks who move here to work for the
government—or write about or influ-
ence or sell to the government—often
feel disengaged from their new neigh-
borhood. They need a way to revive
their “sense of place” and Hickey found
one of the best—volunteering.
He grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where his father was an engineer for an oil company. Then came a
biology degree from Grove City College near Pittsburgh before the Army
drafted him during Vietnam and
assigned him to the hospital at Fort
Campbell in Kentucky.
Hickey spent the war doing lab work
like blood tests on soldiers and their
families, and he relishes the parallel
with his character, who served three
tours with the Union army during the
Civil War. After the Battle of Antietam
in September 1862, Stonestreet spent
four months treating soldiers at the
Rockville courthouse, which had been
converted into a makeshift hospital.
“Edward Stonestreet worked in an
Army hospital in the 1860s, tending
the wounded,” Hickey notes. “I worked
in an Army hospital in the 1960s, in a
little bit different job. I’m not an M.D.,
but I like that connection.”
After Vietnam, Hickey earned a
graduate degree in marine biology
from Long Island University and spent
five years studying fisheries in New
York’s coastal waters. That’s where he
first developed a strong connection to
a community, living and working with
the fishermen of eastern Long Island,
riding in their boats, walking on their
beaches, worshipping in their churches.
His federal assignments built on
that experience, focusing on the environmental impact of government construction projects. Much of his career
was spent at the Department of Energy
facility in Germantown, a 100-acre site
that contained a patch of “undisturbed
[woods] with a trail and a creek running through it and these big old trees.”
The teacher in Hickey was enthralled.
He became the department’s “
self-appointed nature guy,” drawing maps,
labeling trees, leading walks.
The oldest tree he found dates to the
1750s, and his research only increased
his interest in county history. Local
farmers, he learned, wouldn’t plow their
fields all the way down to a streambed,
so most of the county’s tallest timbers
are found next to water sources.
Hickey started volunteering at the
historical society after his daughter, who
interned there in high school, told him:
“Dad, you’re going to love this place.”
She was right. A staff member who
knew his biology background sug-
gested he give tours of Dr. Stone-
street’s office, which contains a medical
museum. Once he retired, he had more
time to delve into the doctor’s life, and
it was Stonestreet’s personal qualities
that really captured his attention.
The doctor ministered to the poor at
an almshouse on Falls Road. He was a
lay preacher in his church and the county’s first public health officer. And he
made house calls, even though he had
to travel rough country roads by horse-drawn buggy to reach his patients.
“He would help anyone who needed
his help, regardless of who they were or
whether they could pay,” says Hickey.
“He gave a lot back to the community
asking very little in return.”
A hobby soon turned into an obses-
sion. Hickey found Stonestreet’s the-
sis, hand-written when he was studying
medicine at the University of Maryland.
He researched stories in local papers—
one from August of 1899 reported that
12211 Nebel Street
Rockville, Maryland 20852