Johnson County —
A father’s push for education, the deaths of both parents during his youth and an athletic entré to a college scholarship he turned down to join the Marines defined the early life of the late Milton David Hill.
Once he found his wings, he soared — taking with him a younger brother, a loving wife, four divergent children and a myriad of students who were influenced by his teaching and coaching.
Hill moved to Cleburne in 1958 fresh from a 26-year career with the Marines, having distinguished himself as an airplane pilot in the South Pacific Theater during World War II and as one of the first 11 pilots trained to fly helicopters in the Korean War.
He had retired as lieutenant colonel. In Cleburne, he was known as “M.D.” or “Col. Hill” by a community that embraced him as a friend, neighbor, church man, educator and contributing citizen.
M.D. Hill died Memorial Day 1998, prompting his son, Milton David “Dave” Hill Jr., to suggest an annual Hill Family Reunion be held in Cleburne on Memorial Day weekend beginning the following year.
Since 1999, the family has met for lunch and a visit to Rosehill Cemetery on the Sunday before Memorial Day “to honor both our parents,” Hill said. This year, however, they are arriving in Cleburne on Saturday afternoon and spending the night at the Liberty Hotel.
Today, the children of M.D. and Jeanne Hinds Hill — Dave and his sisters, Linda, Shirley and Cynthia — along with their spouses and descendants, will gather at their parents’ gravesite at noon.
“We would like to invite our dad’s former students, our friends from growing up in Cleburne and anyone who knew our parents to join us at the cemetery as we remember their lives and the legacy they left us,” Hill. “We have reserved a meeting room off the lobby of the hotel for visiting. To reach the cemetery plot, take the main entrance off [Farm-to-Market Road] 4 and jog to the right, then drive about three quarters of the way down that street. There is a tree on our lot.”