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Memorial created 09-25-2013
Claude Kenneth Hugh Hill
April 4 1925 - September 22 2013

Claude Kenneth Hugh Hill of Carmel Valley, California died peacefully Sept. 22, 2013, at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. He was born in Dublin, Ireland on April 4, 1925 son of Frederick Thomas Hill and Marcella Daisy Pollock, brother of (Butch) Frederick Vernon Hill.

He is survived by his wife Ruth Mary Elizabeth Hill, his children Frederick Hugh, Anthony Leo and Elizabeth Ann, and his grandchildren, Jaydee Lee Hoover, Nathanael Claude Hill and Colin George Hill.

He enjoyed climbing mountains, camping, reading, telling jokes, military history, playing toy soldier war games, walking the dogs and growing flowers and fruit trees. He was a British Royal Marine, a coach, a scoutmaster and a regional manager for AAFES. But most of all he was a great provider, caring father and loving husband. He was loved and he is missed.

 

My dad passed away at the local hospital. He died peacefully in his sleep. He is being cremated and was asked to be spread under his fruit trees.  We are not having a memorial service but I wanted to say a few things about him in lieu of a eulogy.

 

 

First, I think my dad was awesome! Second, my dad lived a long time and I often think he had two lives, one before he met my mother and one after, both filled with adventure. When he was a teen, near the end of WWII, daily bombings of Liverpool compelled him to join the British Royal Marines (1943-46). One particularly persuasive story he told me was seeing a bridge, parallel to the one he was on, hit by a bomb while walking home from his aunt's house. Fate, however, had something else in store for him, the war ended before he saw any combat.

 

He graduated from Liverpool University in 1951, with a double major of Medieval History and Economics with second class honors. But he spent the better part of his 20's, 30's and 40's adventuring his way around Europe, climbing with his brother Butch and friends. They climbed all over Wales, Scotland, France and Italy. There were highs, like climbing and hiking across Sweden solo, (he talked about it often in the last few years), but there were lows like when Captain Jim Akin died from a fall while the two were tied together climbing. He told me some wild stories from then not suitable for this forum, but the story I most wanted to know more about was the one where he saved two children from a burning house in Penygroes, Wales; now that story is lost for the ages. It seems if he didn't go out making an adventure, it came looking for him.

 

Another adventure resulted in him living at Wheelus's Air Force base, Tripoli, Libya, where he met my mother. He kept up the adventures with "date" trips to Malta, Leptis Magna, Tunisia, and Greece where he proposed to my mom in Athens. They married in Boston in 1967.

 

 

They moved to San Francisco, then Dallas, then Carmel Valley, with my dad's adventures now consisting of outings with us kids. My dad took us everywhere when I was young. Weekends were never dull with walks around lakes and rivers, to waterfalls, renaissance fairs, polo matches, rugby games, car races, airplane shows, museums, movies, swimming pools, six flags, water parks, camping, and when nothing was going on, one of dad's favorites, the downtown Dallas public library or really any library for that matter- he really loved to read.

 

My dad worked for the Army Air Force Exchange Service, AAFES, for approximately 30 years. He served in England, Libya, San Fransico, Dallas and then Fort Ord, California. He held various managerial positions, such as Store Manager at the Presidio of San Francisco and Master Planner in the Dallas HQ, as well as Regional Manager out of Fort Ord. When he retired as the Regional Manager of Northern California in 1992, he managed a monthly sales volume in excess of $21,500,000 and over 2,200 people.

 

I know my dad came off as a conservative fellow with his three piece suits, stuffy Queen's English accent, and his legacy of First Boy in school, but my dad was actually pretty liberally minded. I think this viewpoint emerged from his time and the people he met hiking and mountain climbing. He picked up hitchhikers (more often than not, they were teens in the community we knew). Once some hippies had arrived at our house in the middle of the night and set up camp in our front yard. My dad spoke with them when he woke up; they were unfamiliar with the area and thought they were at a friend’s. He brought them inside and offered them coffee and cooked them breakfast. He allowed me and my friends to drink at home as a teen, and always seemed to have an understanding of my perspective, even when he didn't agree with it. And he never got my case for the stupid things teenagers do, content with knowing I'd grow out of it.

 

He went to all of my soccer games, maybe he missed one, but I never noticed. He travelled a lot for work when I was in high school, and he would plan his trips so that he could drive by the school where the game was at the just the right time. Sometimes he was only there for 10 -15 min, but I could always count on looking up to the stands and seeing him there at least for part of the game.

He gave me some good advice, advice I'll remember forever. At the time he would give it, I thought it was just off the cuff, was just of the moment. I know now they weren't. I now figure he must have noticed a problem I needed help with. Then he'd probably think for days or weeks about what to say to me and what he wanted to convey. Then he'd shorten the thought to the least amount of words, something easy to remember, a succinct statement. Then he planned the delivery, usually in a joke. Then he planned the time. He knew communicating to a child or teen wasn't easy, but with planning he was able to plant his advice deep in my memories so they would always be there. All the while I just thought he was making a joke or telling me some random story. Thanks dad.

 

He was fun to hang out with at the pub or just at home putting back a few. My dad liked telling jokes. His jokes were always profane, and usually funny. He liked to make people laugh. He took time finding jokes that he could tell well and made a point of memorizing them. It was something he really enjoyed doing. He had a practice where instead of saying good-bye to me (and others) on the phone, he would tell a joke (almost always dirty), and then hang up the phone when I was laughing.

 

After he retired he really loved taking care of his rare fruit trees. He became an active member of the Carmel Valley Gardening Club and for a while Treasurer of the California Rare Fruit Growing Society. This allowed him yet more adventures, tracking down and collecting fruit tree branches throughout central California. He also reaped a great amount of joy passing on his skills and knowledge to Liz who has cared for his trees since he became too weak.

Even after retirement he stayed active with AAFES. He was twice president of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the AAFES Retired Association. He was an active member of the Monterey Chapter of Society of Ancients, Wargamers until 2000 and a member of the Carmel Valley Kiwanis.

 

Other than the last few weeks, my dad was in good health save some slight dementia and enjoyed being with my mom, Liz and Jaydee. He was healthy, cooking his own breakfast, making his own lunch and he would walk uphill to the end of the driveway for the mail, no small feat there in the country. Frederick and I visited him as often as we could over the years, and though he was weaker each time he saw us, his slight dementia would recess while we were there and he always remembered us and was always excited and in good spirits when we visited.

 

He adventured to the end. After voluntarily giving up his license years ago, he enlisted Liz as his personal chauffeur. The two conspired to find interesting things to do on their outings beyond the trips' actual objectives.  They would go to farmers' markets and art shows, pubs and Sunday drives. He was insistent on giving my mom flowers weekly and when he couldn't get roses from his garden he would pick some up during these outings.

 

 

 

 

I wrote that I often think of my dad as having two lives, one before he met my mom and one after. If my dad was my age, he wouldn't have even been married yet. In a way, my father gave up his first life of mountain climbing and hanging out with friends for a life of being a husband and a father, so he could spend time providing for and raising his family. Content with taking care of us, making sure our lives were filled with happiness and joy and taking pride in our accomplishments. I think it was the best decision he ever made.

 

 

 

In lieu of sending flowers please consider donating to the Friends of Carmel Valley Library in his name.

Friends of the Carmel Valley Library
65 West Carmel Valley Road
Carmel Valley, CA 93924

Phone: (831)659-5877 


 

 

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