Oliver Jackson “Jack” Hill was born in Birmingham, AL to Arthur and Helen Vanderslice Hill. He had three brothers and one sister. After attending Woodlawn High School, where he met his future wife, Judy Gilliland, he attended one year of college at Howard College (now Samford University).
Jack was all about family – and he had three.
He married Judy during an intimate, home wedding in 1957. He started out with a series of jobs as a mechanic before deciding to apply to become a firefighter. The fire department became his second family, with the other firefighters giving him the nickname “Orange Juice” after his initials – O.J. – and he knew which stations had the best cooks and would “just happen” to drop in on them during mealtimes.
After his initial firefighter training, he decided to go into arson investigation and fire inspection. He rose through the ranks and excelled at what he did. He retired as a Lieutenant Fire Inspector after 34 years with the Birmingham Fire Department.
His church family was also extremely important to him. In his early 20s, he and Judy joined 85th Street Baptist church, which later merged with another church to become Deerfoot Baptist. Through the years, he taught Sunday School, coached basketball, chaperoned youth trips, cooked Wednesday night suppers, went on mission trips, and served as a Deacon.
His best friends were almost all part of the church. After retiring, he and Judy jumped headfirst into senior activities, including a local square-dancing group. But his favorite past-time was through Mexican Train, a form of dominoes that he played with church friends.
He, Judy, and friends played Mexican Train on cruises, cooped up in hotel rooms, in homes, and at the church’s fellowship hall. He had a knack for simply looking at the dominoes and knowing how many pips there were without counting them. He was a quiet player, and you wouldn’t know that he was about to go out (win) until it happened.
But his main loves were his family… and traveling. Though money was always tight, he made it a priority to work extra jobs in order to have enough to go to the beach and/or the mountains each year. Once he and his brother Nick took two station wagons and all eight children in the two families on a cross-country adventure. He and his brother Dan did a similar type of trip, but there were only seven children involved this time. He would even allow his children’s friends to come on some of their family trips.
Throughout his children’s lives, he made it a point to be involved with what they did. He would chaperone school field trips, coach baseball and basketball, and support any of the activities that they wanted to engage in.
After retirement, the travel he had always prioritized in his life amped up. He and his church friends would go on cruises and on trips to places like Alaska, Hawaii, and various parts of Europe. As soon as one trip was over, they started thinking about the next one.
Even in the last few weeks of his life, a person could get him talking if they asked about an excursion he had been on. He shared details about the trips he took, making it obvious how much he loved to travel.
But, once again, it needs to be emphasized that more than anything, he adored his family. He loved his wife, Judy, with the kind of love that’s rarely seen today. He was extremely proud of his children and grandchildren. He loved holding all of the babies in his and in his church families; it was one of the places he seemed to feel content. Family gatherings were a priority.
However, one aspect of his life trumped everything else – his wife, Judy.
From the time Judy decided to accept his advances, they were inseparable. Throughout their 64 years together, they had some amazingly great times… but also some incredible struggles. But they kept on, knowing that no matter what happened, they could face it together.
Jack adored Judy in a way that goes beyond how most people define love. Jack would do just about anything for Judy and literally exemplified the wedding vows – “…for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death us do part…”
Except in this case, even death parting them will never change that love.
Jack was preceded in death by his father and mother, his brother Dan, and his sister Sybil. He is survived by his wife Judy, children Mike, David, Tracy and Daryl and their spouses, his brothers Nick and Ronnie, along with eight grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, and friends who loved him.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday, December 7, 2023 at Jefferson Memorial in Trussville, AL.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a donation to Deerfoot Baptist Church.