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Marion Hills

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Marion Hills Obituary
Marion Smith Hills

1944 - 2014 DORSET On December 28th, Marion Smith Hills passed away of complications from Parkinson's, while comforted by the presence of her beloved husband and daughter. Marion was 70 years old. Marion was born in Augusta, Georgia on May 3, 1944, just five months after her father left to fight in the Pacific during World War II. She was nearly two years old when he returned from war and the two remained extremely close from that point forward, sharing a love of the outdoors and, particularly, the game of baseball. Nobody would ever accuse Marion of "throwing like a girl." As a girl in Hartsdale N.Y., Marion excelled in every athletic endeavor she tackled. A star athlete and Regents Scholar, she graduated from White Plains High School in 1962. Marion played basketball at Wells College, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in English in 1966. Marion met Jeffrey Ross Hills on a visit to Dartmouth College in 1966 and the two were married in 1969. Marion worked at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center in the publicity office while Jeff pursued his MBA at Tuck School. Their only child, Cindy, was born in Hanover, N.H. in 1971. Following Jeff's graduation, the family moved to Southern Vermont where Marion spent the balance of her life enjoying all that the Green Mountains have to offer. Jeff went to work full time in Marketing at Orvis while Marion took on the job of designing and laying out the Orvis catalog. After an education in the ins and outs of a national mail order business, Marion and Jeff founded their own catalog business specializing in tennis called Hills' Court. Hills' Court eventually employed more than 50 Vermonters in a building Marion and Jeff built in East Dorset. Until the couple joined the Dorset Field Club in 1971, Marion had never held a racket or a golf club in her hand. But it was a very short time before her name began to appear on club champion trophies at the Field Club. She is one of a very few women in the history of the club to appear on a tennis board, a paddle tennis board, and a golf board and she appears on them all multiple times. A few short years after Marion first played platform tennis she was a top ranked player nationally. She and partner, Alison McCance of Boston, traveled to Cleveland, Chicago, Short Hills, Hartford and other cities to compete in national tournaments. A highlight of her "paddle" career was a quarter-final match on a court put up for the occasion on Center Court of the Forest Hills stadium. Her ranking that year was #8. But athletics wasn't just about winning for Marion. It was the competition and the comradeship that lit her fires. Organizing women's athletic competition was a constant avocation for Marion, whatever the sport and whoever the players. Over the years she coached the Hills' Court women's volleyball team in the battles at Gurry's; she coached daughter Cindy's grade school teams in basketball and softball; she continued coaching girls long after Cindy was away at school; she organized women's golf events at the Field Club with style, enthusiasm, and a wonderful energy, encouraging in particular the beginners and less gifted players. She served with distinction on the board of the Field Club not once but twice. She did so with good humor and humility; the welfare of the employees of the club was always tops on her list of the club's responsibilities. Marion loved competition to the very end. She and Jeff played countless games of Battleship and Connect4 over Bluetooth on their tablets. She made sure that a running score was kept for both games, carefully recorded after each of the two visits a day she shared with Jeff. She loved to win those games and more often than not, did. She was still a consistent team picker in her football pool with secretarial work done by her other most loyal visitor and long-time friend, Gretchen Schmidt. She is survived by her husband, Jeffrey Ross Hills of Dorset, Vt.; and her daughter, Lucinda Hills Schieffer of Marblehead, Mass. She is also survived by her father, Major General W. Stanford Smith of Melbourne, Fla.; her sister, Elizabeth Smith of Melbourne, Fla., her sister Lucinda Warnick of Woodstock, Conn.; her son-in-law, Ross Schieffer of Marblehead, Mass.; and two grandsons, Will and John Schieffer, of Marblehead, Mass. FUNERAL NOTICE: A celebration of Marion's life will be held in Dorset, Vt. on Saturday May 9 at 10 at the Dorset Church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research online at michaeljfox.org or by mail to PO Box 4777, New York, NY 10163-4777.
Published in Bennington Banner on Jan. 2, 2015
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