John Jensen “Jack” Hill, Jr.
June 29, 1932 – July 6, 2021
John Jensen “Jack” Hill, Jr. died peacefully early Tuesday morning, July 6, 2021, under the care of a kind and caring staff at Vidant Beaufort Hospital, holding the hand of Glinda his wife of nineteen years who awoke as his spirit slipped silently into a better place. Unable to speak clearly in his last days and dwelling in two domains, he still communicated to Glinda of his love and appreciation for her strength and support, telling her he wanted his mother whom he had spoken to earlier, asking her if Mammy, his maternal grandmother, was there.
Born June 29, 1932 in Hertford County, he grew up in Ahoskie with his parents, John Jensen Hill and Winifred Braswell Hill, as well as his older sister, Joan Hill Upchurch, and many good friends. His love of flying began as a young boy, when a local World War II pilot buzzed his hometown with a B-17, flying low over his house. Later, he worked for his father in the printing room of the local newspaper and then, at 14, became the newspaper photographer, traveling with the reporters for various events. With his mother’s help, he purchased supplies to make prints of these events to sell to participants in these groups. With the proceeds, he took flying lessons and obtained a private pilot’s license. For the last two years of high school, he photographed all the groups and took snapshots for the yearbooks. With four or five other Boy Scouts, he completed the Eagle Scout Badge, making life-long friends with them, their leaders, and other mentors. After the war his pregnant sister and her two-year-old, Linda LuAnne, now Peters, left post-war Germany, where her husband Chris Upchurch served, to live with her parents and Jack in their childhood home. Linda LuAnne and Uncle Jack formed a tight bond that remained to the end. He tried to remove his hospital gown to dress after she talked to him on his last day and he knew she was coming to see him. After finishing high school, he joined the Navy and served on the SS 422 submarine during the Korean War. He also studied and completed his commercial pilot’s license while in dry-dock, as he always said, “I was the only commercial pilot on my submarine.”
Using the GI Bill and the money earned after a summer as an Aerial Applicator (crop-duster) he attended the Embry-Riddle and University of Miami’s Aviation Business Administration Program for a year before obtaining a job with Capital Airlines. With Capital he flew as first officer on the DC-3, DC-4, and the Viscount. After Capital Airlines merged with United Airlines, he flew as captain of the DC- 6, DC-7, DC-8, DC-10, Viscount, Boeing 727, Boeing 747, and Boeing 747-400, for a total of thirty-six years with the airlines. During that time he served the Airline Pilots Association as their Authorized Accident Representative and received United’s “Captain of the Year” award for the JFK Flight Office in 1990. He also flew sail planes for fun and in 1980 achieved the Diamond Badge, which requires a 16,404-foot altitude gain and a 310.7-mile cross country flight—achieved by finding and flying air thermals. Before and after retiring, he owned several airplanes, including a cabin 1932 WACO UEC—the same year, make, and model as the airplane in which he had his first airplane ride. The pilot gave him a ride in return for his help in selling ride tickets. His favorite was a 1941 UPF-7, open-cockpit bi-plane. For twenty-five years he flew to the various WACO fly-ins. He always practiced safety in the air and on the ground. In 2011 he received the FFA Wright Brothers “Master Pilot” award for practicing and promoting safe aircraft flight operations for fifty consecutive years. After talking with a former mayor of Washington about the importance of maintaining safety at the airport, that mayor created the Washington Warren Advisory Board, of which Jack became one of its original members. The conference room at the airport is dedicated as “The Jack Hill Conference Room” to honor his service. For all his achievements, he remained humble; with almost 36,000 hours in the air, he remained grounded.
Many people provided and received his love during his eighty-nine years. His parents and sister are deceased, as is his first son, Wiley Jay Hill. His second son, Timothy Ross Hill and his two grandsons, Keith and Peter, gave him much joy and love.
Jack is also survived by his three nieces and a few second cousins. Glinda’s deceased mother, her seven siblings, and her son and daughter, Michael and Diane LaViano always loved Jack because he was a good man and gave their daughter, sister, and mother much happiness. On his last Sunday’s FaceTime with Michael and Diane, Max (Michael and Kimberly’s five-year-old) gave Jack a big smile when he showed Grandpa Jack the two Lego airplanes he had just constructed.
A celebration of his life will be held at The First Presbyterian Church of Washington, 211 Second Street, on Saturday, July 10, 2021 at 3 p.m.
A reception in the fellowship hall will follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry, where he packed up to 200 bags of food on any given Tuesday for several years or to the First Presbyterian Church’s deacon’s fund for the needy in the neighborhood or the Methuselah Fund for the Presbyterian Women’s outreach to the homebound.
Joseph B. Paul, Jr. & Washington Funeral and Cremation are serving the Hill family.
Celebration of Life
First Presbyterian Church - Directions