Jimmye S. Hillman

Obituary
  • "My father, Harvey Buck and Mr. Hillman were classmates at..."
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  • "Thank you (uncle) Jimmye, for everything. Go well."
    - Patricia Smith-Koernig

Jimmye S. Hillman long-time professor at the U of A, one of the most influential international economists of his generation, and late in life a literary memoirist, passed away from complications of a stroke on June 4, 2015. Hillman was born in 1923 and grew up on a subsistence farm in Greene County, Mississippi. After graduating from Mississippi State University in 1942, Hillman served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945, obtained a Masters Degree from Texas A & M University in 1946, and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from University of California, Berkeley, in 1950. Hillman arrived at the UofA in 1950, became department chair in 1961, and served in that role until his retirement in 1990. He trained generations of agricultural economists and made the UofA an important center for study in the field. In two books, technical and prescient, Nontariff Agricultural Trade Barriers (1978) and Technical Barriers to Agricultural Trade (1991) and in numerous articles, he examined the globalization of food production and consumption, the proliferation of new food technologies (anticipating the emergence of GMO's), and the ways agribusiness and technology were outstripping the capacity of institutions, locally and globally, to develop a consensus on standards to protect the environment and human health and promote social justice. In his role as an activist economist, he served as economist for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Brazil from 1957-59, developed USAID Green Revolution projects in the Cape Verde Islands, and served as an advisor on agricultural policy to the government of Portugal when that country was preparing to enter the European Union. In 1966-67, he was Executive Director of the President's National Advisory Commission on Food and Fiber, appointed by President Lyndon Johnson, and in 1983-84, chaired the agricultural study group assisting the President's Commission on United States-Japanese Relations, under President Ronald Reagan. He was also a member of the Western States Manpower Advisory Committee established by the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1972-73, Professor Hillman was a Visiting Research Fellow at Jesus College, University of Oxford and was a visiting distinguished professor of economics at Lincoln University in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1995-96 and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ceará, Brazil in 1999. In his retirement, Hillman turned to creative non-fiction and the memoir. His account of his childhood, good times and hard times in the Depression years, when his family bartered with the town store for groceries by raising semi-feral hogs in the pine woods of rural Mississippi, is called Hogs, Mules and Yellow Dogs. It was published by University of Arizona Press in 2012. One reviewer described it as "destined to become a classic of the local literature of Mississippi, alongside Eudora Welty and William Faulkner." Hillman established a graduate fellowship program for foreign students in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University, and was a member of the board and benefactor of the University of Arizona Poetry Center. He is survived by his wife, Helen; sister, Lora Jean Allgood; children, Brent (Susan), Brenda (Robert) and Bradley (Valerie); grandchildren, Elizabeth Camber, Thomas Hillman and Louisa Michaels as well as two great-grandchildren, Leon Legere and Simon Camber. Funeral Services will be held at St. Michael and All Angels on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name either to the Saint Michaels and All Angels Church or to University of Arizona Poetry Center. Arrangements by HUDGEL'S SWAN FUNERAL HOME.


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Published in the Arizona Daily Star on June 7, 2015
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