Donald Hill, age 88, of Rock and formerly of Trenary, died at his home under the loving care of his family early Tuesday evening, December 22, 2020. He was born on March 28, 1932 in Escanaba, Michigan. Don grew up on the family farm, one of four sons to Finnish immigrants, John and Jennie (Leskinen) Hill. Don learned to speak English when he went to kindergarten and then taught his parents the language as he grew. Growing up on the farm instilled a strong work ethic in him. Donald, Tauno, in the Finnish language was always the athletic farm boy. He was a superior athlete developed from years of hard work on the farm and Don earned twelve varsity letters during high school. He graduated from Trenary High School in 1951 and then entered into the U.S Air Force. In 1953, classmate Arlene Goin took the money she had saved from selling eggs at her farm to travel to Biloxi, Mississippi to marry Don at the Keesler Air Force Base on July 3, 1953. Starting as an Air Force family, Don and Arlene were transferred to Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA, Bentwaters / Woodbridge RAF in England, Scott AFB in Mascoutah, IL, and Travis AFB in Fairfield, CA, having a new child at each base. After being discharged from the Air Force, the family moved back to the Upper Peninsula where Arlene gave birth to their three Yooper babies, in Hancock.
Don worked at the Houghton County Airport as an electronic technician for the Federal Aviation Administration for twenty-seven years. He coached all three of his sons Little League team, the Hancock Elks, and he also coached the All-Star Team. He and Arlene were members of the First Methodist Church in Hancock, and they both enjoyed bowling in leagues at the Copper Bowl. Don excelled at everything he did whether athletically, professionally, or for enjoyment. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, bowling, shooting pool, and playing baseball. Don shared his time, talents, and experience with his children and taught them many of his traits and knowledge. After nearly thirty years, in Hancock Don and Arlene moved to Bloomington, MN where they managed the Park Shore Apartment complex.
In 1993, they moved to Rock, MI, and Don started farming hay again at the Hill Family Farm and Arlene took on the role of straw boss. She always made sure everyone was hydrated, fed, and occasionally would even drive the wagon. In 2017, the family celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Hill family farm. They were members of the United Methodist Church of Trenary. In retirement, Don became known as Donny Appleseed and meticulously planted an orchard of multiple varieties of apples on the farm. The family enjoyed the apples and apple pie socials at church where fellow congregation members were also beneficiaries. Don even shared his apples with the deer. He made hay every summer until 2019 and even this fall, he had cut and stacked wood for the winter. Don had a bit of a sweet tooth and was partial to the Finnish treat, Nisu (cardamom bread), always before dinner. He enjoyed family time and playing cards was always a priority. Don was an excellent cribbage, pinochle, and smear player. The love Arlene and Don had for each other was easy to be seen by all, especially when they would dance, floating across the dance floor as one. They were married over sixty-three years when Arlene preceded him in death on August 5, 2016.
Don is survived by their children (some Yoopers, some Yoopers by proxy) - Lorraine (Bob) Berg of Deerton, Annie Hill of Green Bay, WI, Valerie (Frank) Dlabik of Trenary, Alan (Tina) Hill of Plymouth, MN, Douglas (Debie) Hill of Trenary, Janet (Steve) Royer of Trenary, and John (Jacinda) Hill of Austin, TX; twenty-one grandchildren; twenty-four great-grandchildren; sisters-in-law – Claire Hill and Eila Hill; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Arlene, and brothers Vernon, Victor, and Leo Hill.
Private family services for Don will be held at this time. A public memorial service will be conducted and military honors rendered at a later date.
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