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William Hillard

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LOCKLAND - William Hillard didn't want to slow down.

He liked to sing, drive cars, golf and play with his four grandchildren.

Even after a July stroke paralyzed the left side of his body, Mr. Hillard dedicated himself to his physical therapy over a three-month period.

"He worked harder those last few months than he had for a while," said Betty Hillard, his wife of 54 years.

"He had such a strong desire to be busy," said the Rev. Lew Davis, his pastor at Tri-Count Baptist Church, where Mr. Hillard sang tenor in the choir. "He loved music. One of the driving forces for him after the stroke was to get back into church to sing."

Mr. Hillard, 79, made it home to Lockland for Thanksgiving and Christmas but fell ill last month with pneumonia. He died of heart failure Jan. 12 at Bethesda North Hospital. Services have been held.

Born in 1931 in Berea, Ky., Mr. Hillard moved with his family to Lockland when he was 3. His father, the late Rev. B.H. Hillard, was pastor of former Lockland Baptist Church and oversaw its growth from 70 to 2,500 members.

William Hillard graduated in 1950 from Lockland High School and went to Ohio University for two years as a journalism student. He wanted to be a sports writer. Instead, he was drafted into the Army and served in Japan as a human resources specialist during the Korean war.

He climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan in 1953.

Upon returning home, he took a job as an industrial engineer at Procter & Gamble. He enrolled in night school at the University of Cincinnati and earned a bachelor's degree in industrial management. He worked for P&G for more than 30 years. His wife told him that her name should have gone on the diploma, too.

"He had love for God, his family, the church and his country," Betty Hillard said. "He tried to balance all of these things during his life."

One of his major achievements was creating a ministry to hard-of-hearing people the deaf at Landmark Church in the early 1970s.

Motivated by a visiting preacher who specialized in a ministry to the deaf, Mr. Hillard and his wife learned sign language and taught Sunday school to the hard-of-hearing. They interpreted the sermon and hymns during services.

"He was a pioneer in this area," said his son Jeff Hillard, of Lockland. "He was way ahead of his time and very innovative."

Mr. Hillard held political office in Lockland, as well. He was clerk of court, treasurer and a council member over a 20-year span.

He enjoyed travel. One of his most memorable trips was with the May Festival Choir to Eastern Europe.

In retirement, he took a job with a company that delivered cars to auto dealerships throughout the Midwest.

"He was the most active man I've ever known. He never sat still," Jeff Hillard said. "He loved the job driving. It kept him on the road and seeing things."

Besides his wife and son, Mr. Hillard is survived by a daughter, Jacqui Slabach, also of Lockland, and four grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Tri-County Baptist Mission Fund, 8195 Beckett Road, West Chester Township, Ohio, 45069; God's Word for the World,; or RED Webzine,

By Mark Curnutte •
Published in The Cincinnati Enquirer from Feb. 8 to Feb. 9, 2011
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