Even before the late John R. Hill Jr. ’44 learned the core values at Texas A&M University, he was an avid believer in the power of giving back. His late wife, Peggy, also an advocate of generosity, was dedicated to community service in every way possible. The Hills became a model for their children, teaching them that giving back with their time, talents and treasures was a staple value.
John served in the U.S. Army in the 88th and 326th Glider Infantry of the 13th Airborne Division in the European Theatre in World War II. After completing his mission, John’s intellectual curiosity and desire to learn led him back to Texas A&M University, where he received a degree in civil engineering. John joined his father after graduation at Gifford-Hill & Company, a large-scale construction materials business, as an engineer before climbing the ranks to become the company’s first vice president in 1958 and chairman of the board in 1977.
The Aggie impacted Texas A&M in various ways, from serving on the board for Texas A&M University Press and the Department of Civil Engineering, to becoming an active member of Mays Business School’s Development Council and dedicating seven years of service to the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees. John strived to selflessly serve his alma mater to repay the university for the experiences it provided him.
His numerous civic endeavors and innovative thinking were recognized in 1978 when he received the Humanitarian Medal of the National Conference of Christians and Jews and, again, in 1994 when The Association of Former Students awarded him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
When John wasn’t serving his community, he was searching for mid 1800s-era historical state stamps and postal history to add to his renowned collection. He was an avid stamp collector for many years of his life and took pride in the wide assortment of historical postmarks he discovered.
PAVING THE WAY
Peggy and John wanted to support their family while also giving back to John’s alma mater, so they established a charitable remainder unitrust in December 1987 for future benefit of the campus areas that had the greatest impact on his college experience: Mays Business School, Sterling C. Evans Library, Texas A&M University Press and the Corps of Cadets.
Sara Walsh, the Hills’ youngest daughter, said her father wanted to afford more students with the opportunity to attend college. “He was able to attend Texas A&M and enjoy his time at the university, and I know he wanted to grant that financial freedom to as many people as he could,” she explained. The gift to Mays Business School will provide that opportunity by allocating unrestricted funds for the purpose of awarding Foundation Excellence Award scholarships to both undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups, including minorities and those from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
John was a lifelong learner who devoted time to reading and education daily. His daughter, Cynthia Landen, shared that her parents’ gifts to Evans Library and Texas A&M University Press embodied her father’s love for learning and created a legacy for upholding quality education. “My dad believed in the power of education to change lives. His gifts were a tangible way to support that belief,” Landen said.
The Hills’ gift to the Corps provides unrestricted funds to support the goals and objectives of its Enhancement Plan, a project to improve cadets’ learning experiences, provide financial assistance, support recruiting efforts and maintain outstanding facilities.