Friday, February 27, 2015

Life well lived: Fred Hill

A life well lived: Rarely in my life have I met a person quite like my Uncle Fred. I've spent this past month with my family and friends, where we laughed and cried at the memories, and then thought about it all over and over again. His funeral, like his life, was full of unexpected moments.

In the depths of the Depression, he was the first one to own a baseball and a bat on his street - and he managed to get both - honestly of course, showing the wily wit that was to lead him later in life to be the Freight Rates Manager for Canadian National Railway.

He waited outside the baseball stadium as a 10 year old until a home run was hit over the fence, and then he had his friend ride away on a old bicycle with the ball while he stood near by the spot where it landed, and he said, "No, I don't have the baseball!" He learned that a visiting team didn't have a bat boy, and for his volunteering for several games was given a bat as payment.

Fred managed to avoid direct warfare on the French or German fronts because he knew shorthand - one of the few men who had that skill. Being in the army offices, he took shorthand notes before the courts opened their doors for the well-known trials against Nazi leaders.

At his funeral, my cousins, Cathy, George, James, Susan and David made a marvelous contribution by taking us into their family home, to the hockey rinks, the baseball games, the life of Abraham Lincoln, all the sites of the battles of the USA Civil War, and Fred's refusal to accept further promotion because, "How could I leave my home here? How could I leave my mother? Or, my mother-in-law?" CN Railway was better off having him set freight rates than being a Vice President.

When I arrived in Winnipeg in 1964, fresh from Kenya, East Africa, he said to me, "David, I want you to help in Hobby Club." Through that I was introduced to inner-city ministry with over 150 children and teens. Hundreds of children, many of them Aboriginal children, received love and compassion, fresh tomatoes that he grew by the bushel, fresh sweet corn that he bought by the car - truck full, and the Gospel, lived in a way that few people could live it in the inner city.

Thanks, Auntie Marion, for these wonderful moments, re-lived with passion, love and wonderful memories. God gave you the most wonderful husband.

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