G. Edison Hill Tribute
Attorney G. Edison Hill passed away peacefully in his home on Monday, November 26. Born in Chocowinity, North Carolina in 1925, he was the second son of the late Lizzie Ida Lewis Hill and Plum Irving Hill. He is survived by his wife and the mother of his children, Helen Troy Craft Hill; three children, Marcus Edison Hill (Donna Barnes), Michael Craft Hill (Ingrid), and Melissa Helen Hill (Steven Crell); and two grandchildren, Christopher Marcus Hill and Eliza Jade Hill Crell. He is also survived by three sisters, Dot Blount (Norman) of Richmond, Lea “Boots” Fields (Milton) of Rocky Mount, and Nicky Bruce of Greensboro; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He began his life on a tobacco farm, enlisted in the United States Navy at the age of 18, and served his country in World War II in the South Pacific. He loved every day of his more than fifty years of practicing law. His empathy and sincere efforts to help others inspired all those lucky enough to be around him. His dedication to the Democratic Party was a lifelong passion. He was the longest serving and most esteemed member of the Historic Asheville Toastmasters Club of which he was a member for over 60 years. He found a way to smile every day. He had a joke for everyone but never a complaint. His courage and determination to live life his own way will be remembered by all who knew him.
In a final act of generosity, he donated his body to UNC Hospital for education and research. His spirit lives on in all the people he touched.
Albert Sneed: From the first time I met Edison as a young lawyer years ago, he was helpful and always treated me with respect and friendship. He had a wonderful sense of humor and had something new to make you laugh every time you saw him. He will be missed.
Heather Newton: I will miss Edison stopping by my office on his way to court to share a silly joke. My best wishes to his family.
Jack Poisson: When I first relocated my law practice here, Edison Hill contacted me to talk about my father and he serving together on sub chasers in the Navy during World War II. More than anyone else he made me feel very welcome and we frequently spoke in passing and exchanged jokes, which were a great joy to him to share. He represents the great collegiality of the bar for which we are known. He will be sincerely missed.
Joe G. Adams: My first memory of Edison Hill is standing around a big wood fire out by the barn on a cold winter night in the late 50’s. About a foot of snow had come down, and a hard freeze had frozen the crust so hard a man could walk on it without fear of breaking through. We lived in the country, and Edison and his family had come to our house to sled. The run started at the first switchback in the trail, came down past the barn, and emptied into a long open field. The sleds were the old wooden kind with metal runners. We were all trying to see who could go the furthest. Edison and my father doubled up on one sled and made it all the way to the end of the field. They walked back to the fire laughing and proclaiming themselves the champions. It was a good time.
Many years later, when I returned to Asheville to practice law, Edison and Herbert Hyde welcomed me to the Buncombe County Bar. I can remember Edison asking me how I liked practicing law. I said what I usually say, that I liked it on some days and not so much on others. He looked at me with a deep smile on his face and simply said: “I love it.”
The last time I saw Edison was at a Democratic Dinner at the Grove Park Inn. He and Helen were dressed up in their finest. They must have served mashed potatoes that night, because it inspired Edison to tell my girlfriend a joke. She blushed. We all laughed.
There will be less color and less laughter in the world now that Edison is gone. I will miss him.
Gina Drew: Mr. Hill touched everyone he passed in so many ways. Each time our paths crossed, I was elevated, lighter and happier than I was before I saw him. I will miss the opportunity to see him strolling around town with his lovely wife, spreading joy and laughter. If there was one wish I could make for my son, it would be that he is as happy and lovely an individual as Mr. Hill. I will miss him. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to have called him my friend.
Harry Martin: Edison is one of the last lawyers who did not go to a regular law school- He learned law under the late Claude Love here in Asheville- When Mr Love moved to Raleigh he asked me to finish his students, which I did. Edison was one of them. He was one of the last lawyers who did not attend a regular law school and passed the bar exam the first time out.
We lived in an apartment in Biltmore Forest until he got married. As a wedding gift I gave him the apartment. He was a great person and will be greatly missed by the Bar.
Heidi H. Stewart:
EDISON HILL TRIBUTE
“WE NEVER TOUCH PEOPLE SO LIGHTLY THAT WE DO NOT LEAVE A TRACE. “ Peggy Tabor Millin
I FIRST MET EDISON HILL WHEN ATTENDING MY FIRST TOASTMASTERS MEETING AROUND 1985. AT THE TIME I WAS A SINGLE MOM, RECENTLY DIVORCED, WITH A 6 YEAR OLD SON AND 4 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER. A STAY AT HOME MOM DURING MY MARRIAGE, AT THAT TIME I WAS WORKING AS A VET TECH AT NORTH ASHEVILLE ANIMAL HOSPITAL AND ALSO AT THE DAY CARE MY CHILDREN ATTENDED. UNABLE TO MEET THE TOASTMASTERS DUES OBLIGATION DUE TO MY LIMITED INCOME, THE MEMBERSHIP (I AM SURE AT EDISON’S BEHEST) GRANTED ME A SCHOLARSHIP, WHICH ALLOWED ME TO PAY A REDUCED RATE TO ATTEND AND TO REMAIN A MEMBER OF ASHEVILLE TOASTMASTERS.
I REMEMBER ONE TOASTMASTERS MEETING IN PARTICULAR, EDISON MADE A PRESENTATION ON HOW TO MAKE BISCUITS. IT WAS A FLAWLESS PERFORMANCE, OBVIOUSLY WELL-REHEARSED, INCLUDING THE FLOUR, MILK, BUTTER, EVERYTHING. HE MIXED THEM, ROLLED THEM OUT AND PUT THEM ON THE PAN FOR BAKING. IT WAS A MOST AMAZING THING TO SEE, ESPECIALLY SINCE I HAD NO IDEA THAT HE EVEN KNEW HOW TO COOK, LET ALONE MAKE BISCUITS!
EDISON TOLD ME ONE EVENING THAT I NEEDED TO CALL HIS OFFICE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO SPEAK TO HIM. ABOUT WHAT, I HAD NO IDEA, BUT YOU DON’T ARGUE WITH EDISON HILL. I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR THE TALK THAT I RECEIVED. HE TOLD ME THAT HE HAD BEEN GOING TO THE WOMEN’S PRISON EACH MONTH TO GIVE THE SAME TALK THAT HE WAS GOING TO GIVE ME THAT DAY. IF YOU HAVEN’T RECEIVED THIS MESSAGE FROM EDISON I WILL PASS IT ALONG.
“WHO IS IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?”
“IF SOMEONE SPITS IN YOUR FACE, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?” (OF COURSE, YOU REPLY, GET ANGRY).
“IF YOU GET ANGRY WITH THAT PERSON, WHO IS IN CONTROL, HIM OR YOU?”
“IF YOU ARE IN CONTROL, YOU JUST SMILE,WIPE OFF YOUR FACE AND SAY HAVE A GOOD DAY AND WALK OFF.”
“NOW, I ASK YOU AGAIN, WHO IS IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE?”
THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT I RECEIVED WHAT I REFER TO AS “THE TALK” FROM EDISON.
AS A RESULT OF THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF EDISON, I APPLIED AND WAS ACCEPTED TO ATTEND COLLEGE AT WARREN WILSON. I CONTINUED TO ATTEND TOASTMASTERS THROUGHOUT MY COLLEGE EXPERIENCE WHILE WORKING 2, SOMETIMES 3 JOBS AND SINGLE PARENTING MY CHILDREN. BECAUSE OF THE ENCOURAGEMENT I RECEIVED FROM EDISON HILL AND OTHER TOASTMASTERS, I LEARNED TO STRETCH MYSELF.
ONE TIME, EDISON TOLD ME ABOUT A GROUP CALLED THE ROSICRUCIAN FELLOWSHIP. HE TOLD ME THAT THE FELLOWSHIP “seeks to prepare the individual through harmonious development of mind and heart in a spirit of unselfish service to mankind and an all-embracing altruism.” THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD EVER HEARD OF SOMEONE GIVING TO OTHERS WITHOUT ANY EXPECTATION OF RETURN, BUT, TO ME, IT WAS A VERY GOOD DESCRIPTION OF EDISON HILL.
I RECEIVED A BACHELORS DEGREE IN 1992 AND DECIDED THAT I WANTED TO CONTINUE ON TO LAW SCHOOL. MY GOAL WAS BE ABLE TO ADVOCATE FOR OTHERS, WHO WERE UNABLE TO DO SO FOR THEMSELVES. IN THAT MANNER, I TOO WOULD BE PROVIDING SERVICE TO OTHERS. EDISON WAS RIGHT THERE, SUPPORTING MY DECISION AND SERVING AS A PERSONAL REFERENCE FOR ME ON MY LAW SCHOOL APPLICATION AND LATER AS A REFERENCE FOR MY APPLICATION TO BECOME LICENSED WITH THE N.C. STATE BAR.
EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, EDISON WOULD JOT A NOTE OF ENCOURAGEMENT OR WE WOULD TOUCH BASE BY TELEPHONE WHILE I WAS IN LAW SCHOOL. ONE TIME, MIDWAY THROUGH LAW SCHOOL, I HAD GROWN WEARY OF THE CONSTANT STUDYING AND THE DESTITUTE STUDENT LIFESTYLE THAT I WAS LIVING, I HAD COME BACK TO ASHEVILLE THE SUMMER BEFORE TO LIVE AND WORK AND WAS VERY HOMESICK. SO I CALLED EDISON TO CRY THE BLUES AND TO SAY THAT I WAS GOING TO QUIT LAW SCHOOL BECAUSE I JUST COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I GOT NO SYMPATHY FORM EDISON! HIS RESPONSE, WITHOUT TAKING A BREATH, WAS “G.. D… IT HEIDI, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO QUIT AT THIS POINT, YOU ARE OVER HALFWAY THERE NOW. JUST KEEP ON GOING AND CALL ME WHEN YOU’VE FINISHED.” SO MUCH FOR MY IDEA OF QUITTING LAW SCHOOL, EDISON SAID TO KEEP GOING, SO I DID.
WHEN I PASSED THE BAR AND IT WAS TIME TO BE SWORN IN AS A LICENSED ATTORNEY, I CALLED EDISON HILL TO SEE IF HE WOULD SPONSOR ME AND PRESENT ME TO THE COURT. HE SAID “YES!” WITHOUT HESITATION AND FOUND A JUDGE WILLING TO DO SO, MADE ALL THE ARRANGEMENTS AND THEN CALLED ME TO TELL ME WHERE AND WHEN TO MEET HIM. MY DAUGHTER AND SON HELD THE BIBLE WHILE EDISON PRESENTED ME TO THE COURT AND STOOD WITH ME AS I TOOK THE OATH AS AN ATTORNEY TO UPHOLD THE LAWS OF THE STATE AND U.S. CONSTITUTION. EDISON SERVED AS A MENTOR AND PROVIDED ENCOURAGEMENT THROUGHOUT MY CAREER AS AN ATTORNEY.
N 2009, I WAS ELECTED TO SERVE AS PRESIDENT OF THE 28TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT BAR. WHEN MY TERM WAS COMPLETED AND I WAS MAKING MY FINAL SPEECH AS PRESIDENT REGARDING THE ACTIVITIES OF THE BAR FOR THAT YEAR ON BEHALF OF THE MEMBERSHIP AND THEN INTRODUCING THE INCOMING PRESIDENT, I LOOKED, AND THERE SAT EDISON, AT THE TABLE DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME, LISTENING INTENTLY, AND, NO DOUBT, MARKING DOWN EVERY “AND,” “UH” AND “BUT” THAT I INTERJECTED BETWEEN MY SENTENCES.
FROM EDISON HILL I HAVE LEARNED THE VALUE OF UNSELFISH SERVICE TO OTHERS, I HAVE LEARNED TO STRETCH AS A PERSON, TO BE IN CONTROL OF MY LIFE, INSTEAD OF ALLOWING OTHERS TO CONTROL ME AND I HAVE PASSED THIS “TALK” ALONG TO MANY OTHERS IN MY LIFE AND PRACTICE. FROM EDISON, I HAVE ALSO LEARNED TO LAUGH, TO SEE THE HUMOR IN LIFE, TO STOP AND TAKE TIME TO PONDER, AND LAST OF ALL, TO MAKE SOME DAMN GOOD BISCUITS!
Michael W. Drye: My life is much richer because I had the privilege of having Edison Hill as my friend and colleague. I met Edison the week I was sworn in to the Bar in 1976. He got me into Toastmasters although I did not stay at that time. Edison always had a joke to share and a warm smile and a joyous heart. In 37 years, I never heard Edison speak ill of anyone. In 1997, I had a bad experience in public speaking. I went to see Edison and he gave me his “who is in control of your life?” talk that Heidi Stewart mentions in her tribute. He reintroduced me to Toastmasters and encouraged me such that I became president of the club 4 times and a veteran Toastmaster. Edison was a mentor to me and always encouraged me to think well of myself and others. I will miss Edison.
If you wish to make a charitable donation in Mr. Hill’s name, please send your check to:
G. Edison Hill Scholarship Fund