DONALD HOVEY HILL

Posted by Natalie Handy

Community News Editor

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SWANTON — Donald Hovey Hill died at home in Swanton on Jan. 1, 2015, just eight miles north of where he was born at home in St. Albans in 1927. Don was the son of Donald and Bianca (Ratti) Hill.

Don was predeceased by his first wife, Josephine “Jo” Dodge, who died in a bicycle accident in 1971. Don and Jo were the parents of their beloved twins, Christopher Hill and Louise Hill-Gaskill, who survive them.

In 1974 Don married Pixley Tyler, and adopted Pixley’s two children, Pixita del Prado Hill and Hector Hill. Other family members whom Don loved are: Walt Gaskill, Eric (Luke) Krieg, Paula Delorme and Katie Driver; his grandchildren Misha Bove, Yeshua Hill, Evan Gaskill, Anza Krieg and Maria Krieg; and his large, ever-increasing extended family of all ages near and far.

Among others, Don was predeceased by his brother Richard Hill, his cousin John Wriston and his rock brother John Carmola. Close friends who survive Don are members of his Rock Brotherhood and of the bi-weekly poetry group: John Thoren, Paul Madden, Nat Worman, Al Salzman, Doug Flack and Doug Reaves.

Don attended BFA, entering the US Navy and World War II in 1945 at the age of seventeen. He graduated from Middlebury College (even though he lived above the Dog Team Tavern). Don began his career in print and design by attending graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Don and Jo returned to St. Albans and bought a shop on Center Street, which Don operated for 33 years as a “small town commercial printer,” including all of those Town Reports.

The breadth and depth of Don’s life was filled with the diversity of his interests. Don was a lifelong member of the Green Mountain Club, hiking the Long Trail end-to-end, as well as volunteering for the Club, especially on trail-blazing and sign-making. He loved solo snow-shoeing and winter camping, and was a founding member of the Catamount Trail. Don canoed the length of Lake Champlain with his wife Pixley, and together they spent lively times hiking and canoeing in Northern Quebec and the Maritime Provinces. Don grappled with geology-and-philosophy with his good friends the Rock Brothers.

Don was an avid reader his entire life and this greatly expanded his world-view. In the arts, he was a lifelong “appreciator” of jazz, opera and classical music. He was a proud member of Sterling Weed’s Boys Band, and sang as a baritone with the Champlain Orchestra and with the Cloud Messengers. He was a photographer and member of a local photography group. Pixley reports that Don was a “romantic poet and a great dancer.” Don lived poetry, with his poems published in his book 45th Parallel and in poetry journals.

Community was a vital part of Don’s life as well, and he served as a board member with St. Albans Town School and the St. Albans Library and as a BFA trustee and with United Way. Don was a founding member of Court Diversion.

And then there was Don’s passion for the Vermont Arts: woodworking and shopwork, tool-making, boiling syrup, outhouse construction, story-telling, general puttering and his overall spirit of resourcefulness and self-reliance. Don was a deep and complex thinker and yet lived a simple life.

Don’s son Chris says:   “Don was a man of few words, but he used them well.” Don’s family and friends have added: Don was generous, accepting, a listener, wise, warm, open, understanding, funny, curious, imaginative, creative, understated and local. Not all would agree entirely!

Don gave special thanks to the Tyler Place staff and his loving caregivers, including Tinka Martell, Sophia Greenia and Becky Kane.

Donations in Don’s memory may be made to the Green Mountain Club or to Franklin County Home Health. A gathering to remember and celebrate Don’s life will be on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 at 2 p.m. at the St. Albans Historical Museum, the same building where Don went to school.

  • Christopher Hill

    To those reading this who were (and are) family, friends, acquaintances, who had business dealings or other relationships with my father, I wish to extend my thanks for your presence in his life and to express my condolences for our loss. My father knew and affected many, many people. He loved his family and friends, everyone he met was important to him. He will be missed by us all. Thank you again and, as he might say, “may your pack be light and your journey full of joy.”