After more than 34 years in the real estate business in Sherman, Jo Carolyn Hicks sits in her office at Dean Gilbert Century 21 in front of a wall filled with plaques and awards attesting to her success in her second career. She hazards a guess as to the number of homes she had sold at well more than 1,000.


However, real estate was not on the agenda when Hicks graduated from Bonham High School.


“I was a musician,” she said. “I started playing the piano in sixth grade for the Edhube Baptist Church, and when we moved to Bonham, I played piano and organ at Seventh & Main Baptist.”


Her musical inclinations led Hicks to Grayson College and then Austin College where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in voice and music. That led to a job teaching music in Grapevine and then for 10 years at Fairview Elementary in Sherman. She also earned a master’s degree in education from North Texas University.


On Labor Day in 1981, Hicks was severely injured in a riding accident and essentially lost her voice. A series of operations could not fully repair the damage.


“I never went back to the classroom,” she said, explaining her teaching career ended after 11 years. “For two years I couldn’t talk very loudly. I had no projection.”


Life started over for Hicks when she got her real estate license in 1984 and begin her new career. In 1987, she joined Dean Gilbert’s firm and has been there ever since.


“When I started, if you sold a $100,000 house, you hit the jackpot,” she said. “If you sold a million dollars worth of real estate in a year, you were doing great. You might have 30-35 transactions, but you still didn’t have any volume. Now, the median price is $174,000 in Sherman, so you don’t have to sell as many as you used to.”


During her years with Dean Gilbert, Hicks has sold, on average, $2 million to $3 million in real estate each year. Hicks said she’s seen a significant change in the home buyers during her tenure in real estate.


“Younger people definitely have more money than they used to,” she said. “If they are professionals and have two incomes. They definitely have enough money to buy a $300,000 house, where as their parents didn’t make that much money. But of course, there weren’t that many $300,000 houses back then either. We’re working with more affluent buyers than we used to. The other side of that is that unless people are blessed with good jobs, it’s very difficult for them to buy or even rent a house.”


Still, after 34 years Hicks is not planning an to her career anytime soon.


“I have an adopted 21-year-old daughter who keeps me on my toes,” she said. “I know a lot more about a lot of things than I would if it wasn’t for Hannah. And then there’s the two horses, the pet pig and passel of dogs that have to be fed every day. And the parrot, the parrot was in a very bad mood this morning.”


Edward Southerland writes for Best of Texoma. Email him at esoutherland@heralddemocrat.com.