Everything Buddy did, he excelled in’
Hilton Gray “Buddy” Hill was a modern-day renaissance man who excelled in everything he did.
Friends and family paid tribute yesterday to the well-known and multitalented businessman and musician, who died at the age of 74.
“He was my prince,” Carol Hill, Mr Hill’s wife, said.
“I am sure that God gave me the best man who ever breathed.”
Mrs Hill said she had been overwhelmed with love and kindness from the people of Bermuda, who had reached out to her family after his death in Tennessee.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Bermuda for a memorial there,” she said.
The couple met at Notre Dame University when Mrs Hill was 19, but parted ways when she left for school in New York and Mr Hill set off for the University of California.
But “love found a way” when they were reunited many years later, Mrs Hill said, adding that their daughter, Alexis, brought Mr Hill great joy.
“She caused him to laugh, tell stories of his days in advertising, in music, and days growing up in Bermuda,” she said.
Former Premier Alex Scott described Mr Hill, who was godfather to his son, as a lifelong friend.
“As a talent and as an individual, he was one-of-a-kind, a modern-day renaissance man,” Mr Scott said. “Without exception, he was a multitalented individual. He was a student and a musician of the highest order.
“He was loyal to family and friends and anyone and any organisation he committed himself to.
“Everything Buddy did, he excelled in. He will be a tremendous, tremendous loss.”
The pair knew each other through advertising, having worked as partners at Scotts Crafts Limited.
Mr Scott said that through his role in producing commercials, Mr Hill’s voice was much loved and well-known on Bermuda’s airwaves.
Mr Hill, of Somerset Bridge, Sandys, alternated between advertising, community service and the arts throughout his life. In 2008, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his work and contributions to the performing arts, especially in the area of music, by the Bermuda Arts Council.
“He was musically gifted,” June Hill, Mr Hill’s sister, said. “He had a beautiful tenor voice.”
Dr Hill described her brother as a “brilliant” and “talented” man who was dearly loved by his family.
“He was a wonderful brother,” she said. “He was my hero, he was the one I looked up to. He was a really bright, wonderful light — we will all miss him dearly.”
Dr Hill said her brother was part of the Notre Dame University Glee Club. Recalling a concert when he performed as a soloist, she described it as “one of the moments of my life”. She added that Mr Hill also had a successful musical career with the Four Winds of Notre Dame after leaving university and before returning to Bermuda in the Sixties.
The group performed professionally for a few years, had a recording contract and worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Kenny Rogers.
But Dr Hill said her brother was also good with his hands, with the family believing at first that he would pursue an engineering profession.
Architect Henry Ming, who worked with Mr Hill on several construction projects, recalled this side of Mr Hill.
Describing his friend as “an amazingly talented person”, he said Mr Hill was heavily involved in creating Bermuda’s first sound-recording studio — a complicated construction project that involved renovating and rebuilding an existing building, as well as integrating specialised equipment.
“Needless to say, with his help and talents the project was a success,” Mr Ming said. Mr Hill also rebuilt his old Bermuda cottage, Mr Ming added, and did a lot of the masonry and carpentry.
“These were unknown talents to many of his friends,” he said, “while his more obvious talents were his musical skills.”
Mr Hill was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and moved to Bermuda as an infant with his parents.
His father, Hilton Gray Hill II, was a Bermudian hotelier and businessman, while his mother was a renowned civil rights trailblazer, educator and artist, Georgine Russell Hill.
Mr Hill attended West Pembroke Primary School and the Berkeley Institute, of which his great-grandfather, Samuel David Robinson, was a founder, before enrolling at the Boston Latin School.
A proud Bermudian, he served as president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, chairman of the Bermuda Arts Council and the Sub-Aqua Club, as well as other community projects that were dear to his heart.
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