In an age of whiners, snowflakes and therapy dogs, up until a few days ago, we still had Mr. Hill. I loved this guy. Whenever I would see him, he would just start laughing, and without a word spoken, I would start laughing and then we both would be laughing together. Mr. Hill was a good 40 years older than me, but he would always call me “Old Man Smith.” We often would bump in to each other at the Exercise Center, both intending to ride the bike or the StairMaster, but talking and swapping stories often got in the way. He and Pop were at Virginia together, where Mr. Hill was the the big stud fullback and Dad was the scrawny manager of the team. Dad died in 1988, but with real and genuine affection, Mr. Hill would always tell me what a character the old man was and how much he admired him. I really appreciated the kind way he always worked Dad into our laughing episodes.
I think the reason Mr. Hill probably called me “Old Man Smith” was up until he was 85 or so, he knew he could outrun me and out bench press me. The guy was a Hoss. During the War, he was a B-24 pilot and flew 35 bombing missions against German targets. Like so many others of that generation, he came home and didn’t just live a good life, but lived an exemplary life.Do yourself a favor and read his obituary. No offense to Bruce Jenner, but I believe God made men and women profoundly different and did so for a reason. Mr. Hill was my idea of what a man should be: strong, active, virtuous and kind, and one that looks out for others more vulnerable and less equipped to do the things Mr. Hill could do with such ease.
Yesterday at the funeral, the pastor referenced the Beatitudes in describing Mr. Hill. He was right on the money. You see, although Mr. Hill was a Strappin Hoss and an accomplished man, he was extremely humble, self-efacing and good natured. A Virginia Gentleman, who was loyal to his church and protective of his community. I am in awe of my father’s generation and guys like Mr. Hill. I try to memorialize them when I can ( see https://robisright.wpengine.com/category/obit/ ).The supreme irony of today’s world is society has never been so rich, so comfortable and has never had so many economic and political luxuries; yet the caterwauling ignorance and screeching never ceases. We should all remember the lives of the Billy Hills, because they are the model for the perpetuation of our beloved Republic.