A bachelor for the first 64 years of his life, Al Hill sired no child of his own. Yet legions of adults today can attest to Al’s positive influence on them during their student years at West Junior High School in Alton, Illinois, or North Junior High School in Collinsville, Illinois. Beloved by his students, as well as the teachers who served with him or under him, Al revered public education.
Born March 19, 1927, Alfred Grey Hill was adopted from the hospital in Richmond, Virginia, and immediately taken home to Washington, D. C., by his parents Harry and Levantia Hill. Al loved growing up in our nation’s capital. Later, the demands of the Second World War forced the move of the Patent Office, where Al’s father worked, to Richmond, Virginia. There, Al completed high school in 1945.
Al’s love of classical music led to his fascination with the pipe organ, which he studied at Oberlin College in Ohio.
Al moved to Alton, Illinois, in 1947 and accepted a position teaching junior high students — a career he followed throughout his life. He completed his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis and earned a master’s degree plus from the University of Illinois. His teaching career was interrupted only by his call to service in the U. S. Army when he was sent to Korea for two years. He retired from teaching in Collinsville, Illinois, in 1983 and pursued interests in stained glass art, woodworking and travel.
In 1991 he married Martha Jane Ready Gitchoff, again residing in Alton where his wife taught. Together they continued to indulge their love of travel. The Hills made a bold move to Twisp, Washington, in 2014, in order to be near the wife’s only son and his family.
As Al’s dementia became more pronounced, in October of 2018 Al’s family moved him to an elder care facility (Jamie’s Place in Winthrop, Washington) where he died on Dec. 29, 2018.
Al is survived by his wife, Jane; his brother and sister-in-law, Charles and Margaret Hill of Nashville, Indiana; nieces and nephews; beloved lifetime friend Freeman Hopper of Rochester, New York; near-son Paul Gitchos of Twisp, Washington; and near-daughter Melinda Hopper of Rochester, New York, as well as many loving friends and grateful former students.
A brief memorial service took place at the regular Methow Valley Episcopal Fellowship on Jan. 6, 2019, at the Friendship Alliance Church in Winthrop. His ashes will be returned for a funeral service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Alton, Illinois, on Jan. 18 at 11 a.m.
Should you wish to honor Al’s memory, please support public education, helping to ensure that all our children have the opportunity to experience good teaching.