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Gwen Hiller


1923 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Gwen Hiller Obituary
Gwen Hiller passed away peacefully on June 24, 2016, at her Beverly Hills home, with her husband and children at her side. She was born Gwen Pechet in Edmonton, Alberta, on November 12, 1923, the youngest of ten children and the last of them to pass away. Her childhood was spent in Edmonton, Alberta, where she was a schoolmate of Arthur Hiller, who first proposed to her when they were 8 years old. Gwen played hard to get, but they finally married in 1948, and were together for the next 68 years. Gwen graduated from Brandon College in Manitoba, Canada, then worked as a social worker and librarian. A woman of her time, her passion became her family, her orientation one of service. She was the core of support for her husband's career as a film director - successfully navigating the Hollywood scene while remaining stubbornly un-Hollywood in character. For many years she served as a volunteer at Cedars-Sinai Medical center and with community organizations like WAIF, Jewish Family Service, The Maple Center, Venice Family Clinic, AFI Associates, Operation Children and the PTA. Gwen was a loving, generous, and supportive person, but far from a docile wife and mother. She was feisty, opinionated, and tough as nails when she needed to be -- a powerhouse packed into four feet eleven inches. This combination of love and strength made her an exceptional person: commanding, funny, caring, gracious, and thoroughly unique. Some of the things we remember and miss about her: Her intuitive sense of style in clothing and furnishings. The strong connection she had to her Jewish identity, without being particularly religious. Her dominion over her kitchen, barring guests and family alike from getting anywhere near dirty dishes. Her impatience with what she thought were bad movies, long-winded people, and poor fashion choices. Her flair and elegance in hosting parties and functions. The incomparable brisket she served at holidays, the secret of which was a box of Lipton's Onion Soup. The way she single-handedly changed TWA's in-flight movie policy by complaining about the screening of Wait Until Dark, which her young children strained to watch through the cracks between the seats. Her solo shopping excursions in Rome, London, New York, and the other cities she lived in for months at a time while Arthur worked there. Her persistent attempts to set her visiting nephews up with local girls. Her piano playing, which seemed to come out of nowhere, with her children joining her to sing Down in the Valley and Froggie Went A Courtin'. Her love of sweets, particularly lemon meringue pie and anything chocolate. The way family dinners expanded as she invited whomever she happened to talk to beforehand. Her sometimes short fuse but always forgiving nature. Her generosity with relatives and close friends. She is already greatly missed by Arthur, their son, Henryk, daughter Erica Hiller Carpenter, grandchildren Sienna Hiller and Kellen Carpenter, son-in-law Kevin Carpenter, daughter-in-law Melora Hiller, and step-grandchildren Christopher Carpenter, Patrick Carpenter, and Claire Mocha. Many thanks to her loving, supportive caregivers, Maggie Mitchell and Dion Forbes. A private service will be held.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 26, 2016
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