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Dr. William Johnston "Bill" Hills

Obituary for Dr. William Johnston "Bill" Hills

November 8, 1922 - June 2, 2018
San Antonio, Texas | Age 95


Doctor William Johnston "Bill" Hills passed away on June 2nd, 2018 at his home in San Antonio, Texas at the age of 95. With his strong character and easy humor initially developed from his Colorado and Wyoming early days, he lived a full caring life and was a great influence to his friends, family and associates. He was born November 8th, 1922 in Colorado Springs, Colorado to Roy and Faith Hills. He played varsity basketball on the Wyoming state championship team and graduated from Natrona County High School in 1940.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Denver in 1943 and went on to obtain his medical degree from the University of Colorado Medical School in 1946.

On September 23rd, 1945 Bill married the love of his life, E. Lavonne "Bonnie" Hills. They were married for 65 joyful years living primarily in San Antonio. Bonnie and Bill travelled the world together and with close friends. They enjoyed raising and spending time with their five children.

In 1948, he joined the Army and was stationed in Fukuoka, Japan, directly across from the Korean Peninsula. Although his training was in internal medicine, the Army placed him in the surgical services. Dr Hills credited Colonel Sandy French with "making a surgeon" out of him. The Korean War broke out in 1950 and he was deployed with the 34th Regiment as the battalion surgeon. He recalled, "One day I was playing ping pong (one of his passions) and the next day we were getting shot at" as his MASH station was located to close to the front. This began the start of his surgical career and his passion for surgery. He was ultimately promoted to the rank of Major in the Army and awarded the Purple Heart as a result of the injuries from a shrapnel wound and the Bronze Star for heroic meritorious achievement in the Korean War.

After serving with the US Army in Japan and Korea, he returned to the US in 1951 and did a surgical residency at the Robert B. Green Hospital in San Antonio.

Dr. Hills joined the Nix Hospital and formed Surgical Associates in 1954 where he was fortunate enough to work with a great group of doctors, nurses and colleagues he considered his closest friends and extended family. He practiced at the Nix continuously for 50 years until 2005, while also completing a year-long fellowship in surgical oncology at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston in 1968. He was an active member of the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons and was always willing to make a presentation or speak with all the doctors about the latest developing techniques.

Bill had many hobbies and talents including teaching Sunday School at Laurel Heights Methodist Church, coaching softball/basketball, tennis, waterskiing, fly fishing, and carpentry. He even found time to write a few books, including one that offered a unique view of the Nix hospital's history from a doctor's perspective. He liked to water ski up until he was 83, and he skied fast. He was one of few that could ski "to the dam and back," about a five mile stretch. Over a period of time later in life, he found joy in building benches which he gave to friends and family. During one Sunday School class, the group got into a discussion about various religions including Jehovah's Witnesses of which he had multiple friends including his long term nurse Annie and patients that were Witnesses who were known not to accept blood transfusions. One of the ladies in the class asked him, "How do you operate on a Jehovah's Witness?" His replied, "Very carefully!" She said, "Well, when I come to your office, I am going to put down that I am a Jehovah's Witness."

He was an avid Spurs fan going back to the days of the ABA and the old Hemisphere Arena when it was really loud. Bonnie and Bill had season tickets in the corner right next to the Baseline Bums. Not sure how he kept his hearing so well. Maybe all the swimming kept his ears in good shape. In his later years, he never missed watching a game and loved to have lively discussions about the key players and how the Spurs were on their way to another championship.

Spending summers and weekends at the lake house was his way to unwind from the demands of the medical profession. He and Bonnie could be seen sitting out on their deck overlooking the lake in the early morning hours, having coffee, or in the late evening finishing up with some vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Sometimes his two worlds would overlap when an injured skier would need a few stitches. He always kept his black medical bag handy and was known on the lake as "Doc Hills".

Dr Hills is preceded with the passing of his beloved wife, Bonnie Hills and is survived by his five children, Karen Hill, Barbie and husband Billy Celaya, Marcia and husband Jim Pritchard, Jimmy and wife Micki Hills and Greg and wife Sandy Hills along with 16 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

He was a devoted physician, great man, best friend and caring husband. He will be greatly missed by all that knew and loved him. The family would like to thank all that cared for Dr Hills over the last years including, the Nix Hospital doctors and nurses, AA Care Services, Dora, Andrea and Karen.

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2018

A reception will follow at the family's home. Memorial contributions may be made to The American Cancer Society.

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Porter Loring Mortuary North

2102 North Loop 1604 East
San Antonio, TX 78232
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