Jackson Hicks, Houston’s Prince of Parties, Dies Unexpectedly at Home of Former Mayor Annise Parker
35-Year Catering and Event Planning Career is Unparalleled — Hicks Orchestrated Grand Evenings for Celebs and Power PlayersBY Shelby Hodge // 04.25.20
Jackson Hicks led Houston's catering scene for more than three decades, entertaining royalty, celebrities and the city's leading ladies.
Milton Townsend, Jackson Hicks at the 2017 Houston Symphony Wine Dinner, where Hicks was honored for his remarkable career.
Houston Metropolitan Magazine anoints Jackson Hicks as the 'Prince of Parties' in 1990.
The oh-so-dapper Jackson Hicks before he was simply 'Jackson.'
Jackson Hicks and Milton Townsend house-guesting with Barbara and George H.W. Bush at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Milton Townsend & Jackson Hicks at their partying best
Prince Charles greeting Jackson Hicks during his Houston visit in 1977.
Jackson Hicks and Milton Townsend at an opening at the Art of the World Gallery in 2018.
Dominique de Menil and Jackson Hicks at the opening of The Menil Collection
The dashing young Jackson Hicks near the start of his career.
Texas Governor Ann Richards with Jackson Hicks
Jackson Hicks, Milton Townsend and 'Marilyn Monroe' surprise former President George H.W. Bush with a birthday (carrot) cake at The Palm in 2014. (Photo by Al Torres)
Milton Townsend, Julia Frankel, Jackson Hicks, Chree Boydstun at the 2011 Legacy Community Health Services event. (Photo by Priscilla Dickson)
Beloved caterer Jackson Hicks, who transformed Houston’s entertaining style, died Saturday morning in front of former Mayor Annise Parker’s historic home in Montrose’s Westmoreland neighborhood.
While few details are available at this time, early reports are that Jackson (as he was universally known) collapsed and died while walking through the neighborhood with his partner of many years, Milton Townsend. Arrangements are being handled by Bradshaw-Carter. (Check back with PaperCity for updates.)
Early on in his 35-year catering/event planning career, Jackson earned the title of “Prince of Parties” as he perfected the art through Jackson & Company. He regularly catered the galas of every major arts organization and was the go-to source for high-style private parties. On his retirement in 2017, Jackson estimated that he had overseen some 15,000 events during his career, everything from dinners for two to galas for 2,000.
Always charming, always nattily dressed and always a picture of calm in the social tempest, Jackson was a popular figure among the city’s swans and an assuring presence at the major charity events he oversaw. If the evening were in the hands of Jackson and Company, hosts would have no worries that anything would be less than perfection.
Through business, Jackson Hicks and his partner, Milton Townsend, became close friends with President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush and were often invited for summer visits the family home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Jackson and Company was the caterer of choice for the first family. It was an enviable relationship that included a close enough friendship with President George W. Bush, that Jackson’s company was tapped to handle the wedding of the first daughter, Jenna Bush, and Henry Hager.
Over the decades, Jackson entertained royalty, celebrities and Houston’s glitterati. How many caterers can claim to have served Queen Elizabeth, the Prince of Wales, the Queen of Sweden, numerous presidents and the leaders of Russia and Italy. Dominique de Menil selected Jackson and Company to handle the opening of The Menil Collection.
Since his retirement, the 73-year-old Jackson and Townsend have spent more and more time at their home in Woodstock, Vermont. Townsend’s Instagram account reveals numerous summers spent amid the flowers blooming in the garden and winters in front of the wood-burning fireplace.
At any other time, one would expect a glorious sendoff for the every popular gentleman who upped the ante on Houston entertaining. But due to the COVID-19 restrictions, that celebration of Jackson Hicks’ grand life will have to wait.
No further information on arrangements was available at this time.