Geneva mourns late alderman, parks commissioner Sam Hill
When Sam Hill thought something needed to be better in Geneva, he did something about it.
Like organizing the volunteer renovation of a shabby downtown information kiosk.
Or when he learned at a city council meeting that the cemetery fund budget couldn't afford weeding and beautification, the alderman whipped out his checkbook and made a donation. Then, he led volunteers in pulling weeds and trimming grass around gravestones at the two cemeteries.
And when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, he and his wife, Carolyn, helped start a Memory Cafe chapter, where those with the disease and their partners could socialize and discuss issues.
Hill, 86, died Tuesday.
"I had the pleasure of knowing Sam for almost 45 years," Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said Wednesday. "His love for and dedication to all things Geneva was unmistakable. To serve with him on the council and benefit from his advice, friendship and kindness was a true joy."
Hill was a Geneva Park District commissioner for eight years. Former park district Director Stephen Persinger considered Hill instrumental in obtaining state money to start buying the first 131 acres from Peck Farm in the early 1990s and turn it in to a park. At a 2009 ceremony where the Hills received the William Wood Community Service Award, Persinger said Hill was tenacious about the park project.
As the men drove through a sleet storm to a meeting in Springfield, Hill said, "We're going to Springfield and we're getting that money. We're not turning around," Persinger recalled.
A baseball field at the now-385-acre park is named after Hill.
Hill served for a decade on the city's plan commission, then ran for alderman in 2001. He spent the next 12 years representing the city's 1st Ward, which includes much of the downtown and the Geneva Historic District.
He had a fun side, too. In 2013, he and fellow Alderman Dorothy Flanagan won the "Dancing With the Geneva Stars" competition, raising money for the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission and the Geneva Academic Foundation. Hill donned a chest-baring shirt for their rumba routine. He also portrayed Herr Drosselmeyer in State Street Studios' productions of "The Nutcracker" ballet.
When Geneva had problems with its curbside leaf collection, Hill played "Mr. Don't" in an educational video. Mr. Don't ignorantly raked leaves into the street, lazed about in a lawn chair and disputed the leaf pickup schedule brandished by his wife.
Hill is survived by his wife, two children and his grandchildren.
Visitation is set for 4 to 8 p.m. July 29 at Malone Funeral Home, 324 E. State St., Geneva. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. July 30 at the Oscar Swan Inn in Geneva.