A Life Lived: Churchill W. Hill did not know the word ‘impossible’

Published 11:49 am Tuesday, July 9, 2024

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The word “impossible” was not in Churchill Hill’s vocabulary. Once he set his mind to do something, he generally did it. He was an artist, an IT technician, customized cars, and an electronic genius. He also enjoyed woodworking.

“Hill,” as he was affectionately known to his friends, died June 10 at the age of 80. Carter County was his adopted home as he was born and raised in Norway, Maine. He moved to Carter County when he married Roxie Williams of Blue Springs. He first became acquainted with the area and his wife when he visited here with Roxie’s brother, who he served with in the Army.

Hill was named for the great English statesman, Winston Churchill…and he spent a lot of time explaining his name.

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Hill worked for 10 years at Eastman Chemical Company. He also worked with the Johnson City School System and retired from Elizabethton High School where he was an IT technician. His daughter, Robin, said her father learned all about computers by taking them apart piece by piece and putting them back together. “He knew exactly what each button on the computer could be used for,” she shared.

Hill owned and operated Hill’s Paint and Classic Cars…and he painted a lot of different things – from plaster of Paris objects, to oil painting on canvas, to even backgrounds of church baptistries. And, trucks and cars, too.

He had no professional training in art, although he had doodled with pencil and ink drawings all his life. His pride piece was an oil painting of the Rapture, which he had printed in a limited number and placed on the market for sale. In an earlier article on Hill and his painting “The Rapture,” Hill shared that he read and studied almost everything in the Bible pertaining to the Rapture and set out to paint what he visualized the Rapture to be.

Among his favorite objects to paint were animals and scenery and some of this has been depicted best in backgrounds for church baptistries.

One of his best-known pieces of artwork was a customized van with the theme of Elvis Presley. He transformed his 1962 Corvair Van into an Elvis jukebox. He literally covered it with 65 full-color airbrush paintings of Elvis’s life and career. The intricate artwork included reproductions of movie bills from all 33 of Elvis’ films The most unique feature of the van was the music. Inside the van was a vintage 1954 jukebox loaded with 120 of Elvis Presley’s greatest hits.

Hill’s daughter said during the painting process, he made a trip to Graceland in Memphis, which was followed by a detailed painting of the mansion on the side of the van.

In addition to his paintings, Hill was most proud of his military service. He served in the United State Army and in the National Guard during Desert Storm and Operation Noble Eagle. Hill’s daughter said her father first joined the military because there were no jobs available at the time.

Hill, while on active duty, served in Korea and was paired up with Kenneth Williams from Elizabethton. While in Korea, Hill was the squad leader and Williams was the radio man. After his discharge from the Army in 1967, Hill came back to Elizabethton with Williams because he could not afford to go all the way back to his hometown in Maine.

Hill and his wife, Roxie, whom he had been married to for 56 years, had two daughters, Lori and Robin.

He and his family were members of Blue Springs Christian Church.

Hill was an extraordinary person. Ronald Reagan is credited with saying: “There are no such things as limits to growth, because there are no limits on the human capacity for intelligence, imagination and wonder.” Churchill W. Hill knew no limits when it came to doing things. He found a way to get the job done.

He was laid to rest June 14 in the Pearl Bowers Cemetery in the Blue Springs community. Many people have fond memories of him and many more admired him for his talents and his friendliness and many kindnesses to those around him.