It is with sadness that I mention that my Dad, Paul Hill passed away recently.
He had been ill, suffering from kidney disease. I was fortunate to be able bring my work with me to visit him and spend a good amount of time with him over the past several months.
After the funeral in Illinois, and then arriving home, I'm finding myself thinking about him a great deal...so I thought I'd share a little about him.
He was a loving husband, father and grandfather -- as well as a friendly, personable, energetic and dynamic man. When he was in the same room with you, you knew it.
He was also one of those people who had the courage to say what he believed, even if it wasn't popular. When he told you something, you could be sure you were getting his feelings, without a filter.
He made keen observations that made you stop and think...or laugh out loud.
This lack of filtration extended to just about everything, including his feelings about politics, entertainment and food. If he really liked something or not, he made it clearly known.
Growing up, our family dinners usually consisted of cattle and livestock...we rarely had chicken or fish...and never had Mexican or Asian food, because it was clear that my Dad didn't like those things. My Mom, brother and I would only partake in those offensive items when he was out of town for business.
Speaking of food, I'll never forget a particular dinner we had while living in Wheaton Illinois. There was a new fast food restaurant on Roosevelt Road that Dad wanted us to try, and the restaurant was Arby's. (This was before Arby's became a huge chain and started serving the culinary equivalent of plywood.) They served real roast beef, and they had enormous whole roasts on display, which they would carve right in front of you.
Dad walked up to the counter as if he was in a trance...he leaned over to get close to that big block of beef, smiled and started sniffing the air like a dog.
We ordered, the roast beef arrived...he oohed, ahhhed and smiled through the sandwich...and licked his fingers. And then he went back up to the counter to inquire about a franchise for this hypnotic roast beef place.
In retrospect, he probably chose correctly in founding his industrial pump company a year or two later...but there was no halfway with him...if he liked something, he was passionate about it.
He was that way with boating, fishing, skiing, Cadillacs and other large General Motors sedans...and of course, my Mom.
He always told her how wonderful she is and how lucky he was to have her as his wife...right up through the last few weeks. I'm pretty sure she was only the person on earth who could tell him what to do.
My Dad had many gifts and one of them was his ability to communicate...and hence, to sell. He was the top salesman at Goulds pumps in New York, and later at Crane Deming in Ohio....and at a relatively young age, he was asked to teach other salesmen in Chicago. Later, when he had his own company and hired other salesmen -- the best he could find-- Dad still always sold the most pumps...even though he spent much less time doing it.
His skills applied to work as well as to life in general. One example comes to mind: When my brother Dan and I were very young, on certain weekends in the winter, my Dad would usher us into the car, and we would drive to far away icy cold, snowy places. He had us put on really uncomfortable, tightly fitting boots and then heavy skis. We'd stand in long lines shivering, waiting to be dragged by a rope to the top of a hill... All so that we could flail around at high speeds, trying to avoid falling on the icy slopes, until we got back down to the base.
My brother Dan and I absolutely hated this for years. But Dad kept on with it.
Skiing was one of his great passions...(and that fact was important for all of us....as it was also how he met my Mom...at a small ski resort in upstate New York.)
After a few years, Dan and I fell in love with skiing too. And it became one the reasons that I moved to Colorado. Whether you call it salesmanship, or instincts...Dad often knew just what you wanted and needed...even if you didn't know it at the time.
My Dad was also an incredibly tenacious guy.
His perseverance was still evident over the past couple of years...intermittently battling kidney failure, colon blockages, prostate cancer, diabetes and overcooked hospital food.
The last couple of months became foggy for him, but he continued to try hard to recover and to communicate his feelings to us. He was positive and courageous throughout.
Watching him continually persevere in the face of challenges throughout the years -- with business, and in life itself -- has been a great example.
As many of you can attest, losing one of the few people you have known since the moment you came into this world is hard.
But he is now in a place without pain, fog or confusion.
And they certainly have lots of real roast beef.
I love you, Dad. I'll miss you.