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Carolyn Hill Obituary - Hill Funeral Home

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A visitation will be held at Hill Funeral Home, Saturday, February 3, 2024 at 1:30pm with a service to follow at 2:30. Service will be live streamed on the Hill Funeral Home YouTube page.

I will be forever grateful that I had the privilege of getting to know my Aunt Carolyn well. She was a wonderful human being. Always the kindness of heart, kindness of thought, voice of wisdom (and experience) - the list of which is endless. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind. I am blessed to have shared a part of her life.

Billie Halley

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Obituary for Carolyn Hill

Carolyn Hill 1921-2024

Carolyn Hill

03/09/1921 - 01/25/2024

At 102-years-old, Carolyn Joan Tilley Hill passed from this life peacefully in her own home attended by loved ones in the early morning hours of Thursday, January 25, 2024.   

Daughter of Benjamin Tilley Sr. and Armindia Seel Tilley, she was born on March 9, 1921, in Wellston, Ohio. 

Preceded in death by her parents; sisters Jane Mohr, Cecelia Cline; brothers Ben Jr. Tilley, A. Robert Tilley, Richard Tilley; and beloved husband, Howard R. Hill.  Survived by her sons James (Judi) Hill, Jeffrey (Betsy) Hill, daughter Nancy Hill; grandchildren Jamie (Heather) Hill, Lorien Hill-Purcell, Mollie (Kevin) Hill Turner, Dan (Kara Fishgold) Hill, Becca (Brandon) Minch; great-grandchildren Katie, Meghan, Bridget and Chelsea Hill, Jack Turner; and many Tilley and Hill nephews, nieces, and cousins. 

The Tilley family moved to Clintonville in 1922.  Carolyn remembered gathering manure from the street for their garden when the family lived on Adams Avenue.  The Great Depression was challenging for a family of 8, yet they never went without.  Armindia sewed the children’s clothes and although Carolyn, the youngest daughter, received quite a few hand-me-downs, outfits were never made from flour sacks.  The Tilleys continued growing vegetables in the yard when they relocated to Tulane Road.  Carolyn fondly recalled walking with her siblings to the icehouse on High Street, north of Blake Avenue, to get ice for the icebox and bringing it home in their wagon.

Carolyn loved school from an early age and developed into a lifetime learner.  In 1938, she graduated from North High School, where she played and captained speedball, basketball, baseball, and volleyball teams, was a member of the Girls Athletic Association and recognized on Honor Study, Honor Society and by Rotary.  Carolyn was active as Associate Editor of the Memory Book and in Student Council.  A Bachelor’s in Education from The Ohio State University in 1942 and a Kindergarten Certification completed her formal education.    

Howard Hill attended North High in the class below Carolyn, though he did not catch her eye in school.  In 1940, they both participated in a religious drama observing the 25th anniversary of Crestview Presbyterian Church’s founding.  Carolyn was cast as the female lead, Lota, and while Howard was not cast as her lover, Nazrah, he won her heart.  They dated during college, became engaged when Howard was on leave during WWII, and married in 1946, after his return.   

Carolyn and Howard lived in a house on Crestview Road before using his serviceman’s loan to purchase their home on Schreyer Place in 1957.  Together the couple raised three children – Jim, Jeff, and Nancy – always encouraging their progenies’ interests and passions with zeal.   

Carolyn started her 40-year teaching career in Bellevue, Ohio in the fall of 1942, making $1,100 per year; a very good salary for the time which she felt fortunate to receive.  She later taught at Linden and Clinton Elementary Schools before settling in at Indian Springs Elementary (ISE) and instructing kindergarten in Room 3 for 26 years until retirement in 1983.  After retirement, Carolyn continued to work with various education programs and never stopped teaching her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. 

Carolyn said when she began her career as an educator, “I thought, perhaps naïvely, that I was doing something important by shaping children into good citizens for the future of our nation.”  The belief was far from naïve and, in fact, true.  

So beloved by her Indian Springs kindergartners, it was not uncommon for past students to ring the doorbell of 105 E. Schreyer Place and ask if Mrs. Hill still lived in the house bordering the school playground.  A firefighter at Station 19 asks to visit Room 3 when he conducts fire safety drills at ISE; a political candidate moved to public service 36 years after Mrs. Hill’s civic lessons which taught her, “You cannot complain if you do not participate.”; an event director dreamt of students singing Happy Birthday to Carolyn on her 102nd birthday and coordinated with ISE to make it reality.  These and many more young people blossomed into good citizens from seeds planted in Mrs. Hill’s kindergarten. 

Asked what her secret was for living past a century, Carolyn said it was no secret, “Be active all your life – in body, in mind, in spirit.”   

Carolyn supported and shared Howard’s love for barbershop singing, accompanying him to travel the United States and abroad for chorus and quartet events and contests.  She was a member of the Sweet Adelines for several years and, when no longer involved, continued to love singing hymns in church.  Carolyn last sang Christmas carols when the Maple Grove youth group visited her in December 2023; she still knew all the words, even to the 2nd verse of Away in a Manger.   

Carolyn once convinced Howard to learn to square dance and he surprised her by enjoying it.  They golfed together in the summers; a pastime she continued late in life until a knee injury prevented her from doing so.   

Early in life, Carolyn developed a love of fishing using a cane pole with her mother, brothers, and sisters.  She taught her children and grandchildren to fish and never missed a chance to wet a line in Alaska, Arizona, Canada, and Oregon when visiting family.  Carolyn’s fishing prowess is immortalized with a picture on the brochure of her nephew’s resort in Canada; she holds a large bass that she caught and has a big grin on her face.  “Here fishy, fishy, fishy.” 

In addition to growing minds, Carolyn loved growing plants and cultivated a reputation as a knowledgeable green thumb.  She was always happy in the garden, even pulling weeds, and passed her love of plants and the outdoors to many who knew her. 

A life-long birdwatcher, it was always a good choice to give Carolyn a bird feeder, bird bath, binoculars, or bird seed as a gift.  She volunteered at Highbanks and Blendon Woods Metro Parks monitoring bluebird boxes and duck migrations and led children on nature walks.  Carolyn believed walking contributed to her longevity, and she tried to walk outside every day it was decent weather. 

Carolyn was a very involved, 41-year member of the Clintonville Woman’s Club (CWC) and spent many hours in community service, interest groups, and leadership roles.  She cofounded an investment group and learned to use a computer for word processing and spreadsheets.  In her 70’s, Carolyn served as both CWC President and Board of Trustees Chair, effectively the CEO of a small catering and event business.  Although she was too modest to think it, during her time at CWC Carolyn was shown to be a savvy investor and businesswoman.  She was especially close to and loved by members of staff at the Club.   

Until macular degeneration prevented it, Carolyn was an avid reader, gamer, and crafter.  She and Howard played Scrabble regularly and were sufficiently competent to participate in Scrabble competitions where both won events.  Carolyn continued to play at every opportunity after his death; besting her at Scrabble earned family bragging rights.  Crosswords and jumbles in the daily paper kept her mind sharp, as did embracing technology to play Words with Friends on her tablet.  She was active in more than a few groups that played bridge.  Carolyn inherited her mother’s handcraft talents, demonstrated by cross-stitch, embroidery, sewing, tatting, and quilting, to name a few. 

Carolyn had a strong faith that was quietly exhibited in her daily life.  She was a 70-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star.  With a generous heart, she was incredibly involved at Maple Grove Methodist Church beginning in 1957 when the Hill family moved to Schreyer Place.  She cared deeply about honesty and truth above gold and pearls, always strove to see the best in others, and to “keep the peace.”   

Carolyn often said she never intended to live so long without Howard, who died unexpectedly in 1987.  They are together again. 

The family extends its thanks and gratitude to Central Ohio Primary Care, the COPC Comprehensive Home and Palliative Care team, and the staff at National Church Residences Hospice. 

Please join family and friends as we celebrate 102 years of life well-lived.  Visitation will be held on Saturday, February 3, 2024, from 1:30 to 2:30 PM, an Eastern Star Service at 2:15 PM, a ´╗┐Celebration of Life at 2:30 PM followed by a Remembrance Gathering with light sustenance approximately 3:00 PM at Hill Funeral Home (220 S. State St. Westerville, OH 43081).  At Carolyn’s request, please do not wear black exclusively; she asked that her Celebration of Life be “a sea of color and flowers.”  Carolyn once jested, “I’ll know if there aren’t enough flowers!”  A private burial service will be held on Monday, February 5, 2024, at Union Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio.  

In honor of and in tribute to Carolyn’s life, a memorial bench, tree, and plaque will be installed at Indian Springs Elementary School in Clintonville; gifts in contribution for Carolyn’s bench and tree may be sent to Nancy Hill, 105 E. Schreyer Pl. Columbus, OH 43214.