Our Dad, Papa, Great Grandfather folded up for the last time Wednesday morning at the ripe old age of 92. He was at home, preparing to face another day. And the days hadn't been easy the past several months. The ravages of time, arthritis, congestive heart failure, medication side effects, all conspired to ignite Dan's gallows humor. He was ready to go and didn't have qualms about suggesting how we all could assist. Thank you to Sawyer and Misha, and Bristol Hospice, for helping make Dan's last few months a little less painful, a little more bearable.
Born June 28, 1929 to Esther Burgess Hill and Charles Washington Hill in Salt Lake City, Utah, Dan was the first of the family's seven children to be born in a hospital. His siblings were all 8-21 years older than Dan at his birth. By his own admission, this big difference in age played a huge part in his development. Growing up in rural Holladay, Dan spent hours outside in the big yard, raising pigeons and fancy pheasants, helping in the orchard and garden, learning to play alone and work alone and to do a good job. He also had good leaders in church activities and scouts, including one who taught him to fly fish, a lifelong passion for Dan.
After graduating Granite High School in 1947, Dan moved to San Diego with his parents, sister Esther, and her two young children. He graduated from San Diego State College in 1951 with a degree in marketing. While waiting for his draft call into the Korean War, Dan decided to see the country. He ended up in Yellowstone where he landed a job as the Lake Lodge auditor. Known as "Dan-Dan the Money Man," he cashed pay checks for the seasonal employees, fly fished by day, audited the books at night and helped stage Saturday night fish fries and hootenannies. He became a master at tying flies, catching, releasing and filleting fish; skills that would serve him well throughout his life, often on his many return trips to his beloved Yellowstone.
Drafted to Korea in 1951, Dan served two years in the military as a 2nd Lieutenant 15th Field Artillery Battalion of the 2nd Infantry Division. He spent six harrowing months as a Forward Observer holed-up in a dirt bunker while enemy artillery constantly pounded his position. Fortunate to escape with his life, Dan was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Achievement in Ground Operations Against the Enemy. He was also left with lifelong hearing loss and PTSD before it was an identified disorder.
Dan married Helen Sheppard on December 14, 1955. Together they raised three children, Connie, Dan and Beverly, in a house they had built in the Cottonwood Heights lowlands. Dan honed his landscaping skills, building a large flagstone patio surrounded by elaborate perennial gardens and a fish pond. Always handy and innovative, Dan turned the simple split level into a comfortable oasis for the family, including a four story Barbie house for Connie and Bev, and a stockade fort made of willows for Danny's little plastic men.
Dan worked at Hercules Aerospace a number of years before starting his own landscape maintenance company where he mentored many young people, including his own kids, in the finer points of mowing, weeding, planting, pruning, sprinkler repair and hand watering. Dan retired from the landscape business in 1994 and embarked on an entirely new and unexpected career change, becoming a professional artist. During the past 25 years Dan created an impressive legacy of life size bronze sculpture, many originating as commissions because of his knack for capturing likenesses. Throughout his sculpture career, Dan was recognized as one of the country's best bronze sculptors of children. His work can be seen at DanHillSculpture.com. Dan also dabbled in oil and acrylic painting, particularly during his last few years. His creative talents were stunning and varied; and essentially self taught. Dan liked to muse that is was interesting how many things we learn as we grow without realizing it. He definitely learned a lot and lived a full life and we will miss him dearly.
Dan was preceded in death by his loving wife Helen who he selflessly cared for during her final year of life. Dan is survived by his three children, Connie Liddiard (Brian), Dan C. Hill (Cassie), and Beverly Hill, seven grandchildren and fifteen great grandchildren. Per Dan's wishes, a small graveside service will be held at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 prior to internment.