Lucky for me, Jack Hill befriended me a decade ago when his birth hometown became my adopted one. An idea would come to me of a way to enliven the community, and I would go to Sen. Hill. Every time, without fail, he was enthusiastic. Scrolling back through emails, I see so clearly how much he loved his place and how sincerely he wanted it to thrive.
"Put me down as a member," he would say. "I’m sending a check and an offer to help in any way I can. Can I rent the building for your conference?"
When he wasn’t in Atlanta he’d show up to meetings or fundraisers or talks at the library. He could be counted on to support any endeavor that brought economic, cultural, or spiritual gain to his town and county.
Hometown folks loved Jack, but to most, I think, he was a neighbor who happened to be a senator. Because he was so down-to-earth and approachable, most didn’t realize how famous he was in Atlanta and how much power he could wield under the Gold Dome.
I am bereft at the death of Sen. Hill. I admired many things about him. One was how he dropped everything when a hometown person showed up at his office in the Capitol or at his office in Reidsville, and how welcome he made you feel. One was his courtesy, his good manners, his quiet demeanor – he never failed to stop and talk. One was his generosity. I especially loved how he took exquisite, compassionate, daily care of Mrs. Hill.
One of the last times I saw Sen. Hill was some months ago, before the 2020 Legislature started. We were both at an NAACP banquet. He had his beautiful wife with him. All we did that evening was smile and wave across the room. I was reminded then and now that Sen. Hill was a person who knew the right thing to do and didn’t mind doing it.
Sen. Hill brought many gifts to Tattnall County, assets that would not be possible without him, including the timber-frame lodge at the state park and the designation of historic landmark for the Alexander Hotel, to name only two. He did not have an inflated ego, and he did a great many things for all of us without desiring or receiving credit. We are going to miss his advocacy and his support, and we are going to miss how he made us proud. We are going to miss our friend.