Gwendolyn J. HillMarch 4, 1947 ~ July 7, 2020 (age 73)
Gwendolyn J. Hill (Granny) was born on March 4, 1947 in St. Louis, MO to the union of Mr. and Mrs. James and Lencia Watts. She was always especially fond of her childhood memories that included growing up with her three sisters and spending much time with her grandparents. From these early life experiences with family, she formed a true passion for showering her own children and grandchildren with an endless, unconditional love.
On a Sunday afternoon while walking home from church, a handsome, charming young man driving a red car approached Gwen and rolled down his window. This young man was Claude James Hill, but she would come to know him as “CJ, the love of her life”. They were joined together in Holy Matrimony on July 2, 1966. They shared a relationship rich with love, trust, loyalty and humor. Gwen and CJ always worked together as a team and relied on one another for everyday decisions as well as life altering changes. CJ preceded her in death on July 21, 2004. To this special union were born Tracy Lencia Hill and Dr. Malcolm James Hill (Dino). Gwen cherished her children and had a unique relationship with them both. Whether it be a debate about history and the constitution with Dino or relying on Tracy to take charge and make important decisions, they both knew that they always had her support.
After a short stent as a Licensed Practical Nurse, Gwen received a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Southern Illinois University Edwarsdville, and she continued on to obtain a Master’s Degree in the same field. She had an authentic gift for providing education in urban school districts. Throughout her career, she taught in the St. Louis Public School District as well as East St. Louis School District 189. Her students knew that they could depend on Mrs. Hill for guidance in all aspects of their lives. She was known for being a sharp dresser, never wearing the same thing more than twice in the classroom. Sometimes they would mistake her compassion for weakness, but they learned very quickly that “Mrs. Hill don’t play”. She passed down this passion for education in urban school districts to both her son and granddaughter, Dani.
Everyone in Gwen’s life knew that her grandchildren were always her number one priority, even in her last days of life. Christmas mornings were some of the most precious memories with Granny Gwen. She and papa would turn the whole downstairs portion of the house into The North Pole, complete with trains already running and Barbie dolls placed in dollhouses. Each grandchild was assigned a specific color bow on the wrapped gifts, and an uneven number of gifts per child would inevitably end in “friendly” physical altercations between children. Granny always made each grandchild feel capable of conquering all goals and dreams. She encouraged us to get an education, and to never settle for less than what you are worth. All grandchildren looked to her for life advice because she would find positive light in all situations. It will always remain debatable who holds the number one spot as the favorite.
During her later years in life, Gwen met a special friend who never left her side, Mr. Andrew Mitchell. Mr. Mitchel was very patient and loving with Gwen. Whether it be taking the entire sink apart to clear a clog thirty minutes before the start of a Christmas Eve party, or getting on top of the roof to clean the gutters, Mr. Mitchell was always up for the task with no complaints. He would always be an advocate and defend her honor, even until the last day. Our family truly appreciates him for taking such good care of Granny Gwen.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Claude James Hill; her parents, James and Lencia Watts, nee Murry; and her sister, Carolyn Williams.
Gwendolyn is survived by her children, Tracy (Brian) Cregger and Dr. Malcolm J. (Angelia Anderson Hill) Hill, Sr; her daughter in law, Machanda Hill; her grandchildren, Jamie Billups, Grace (Dani) Billups, Malcolm Hill Jr. (A.J.), Clayton Hughes, Jacob (Jake) Cregger, Anderson Hill (B.J.) and Paige (Cookie) Hill; her sisters, Janice Reid and Angela Watts; and her loving, companion, Andrew Mitchell. Gwendolyn is also survived by her godchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Kassly Mortuary, Ltd., Fairview Heights, IL.
A private family funeral service will be held on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 at Kassly Mortuary, Ltd., Fairview Heights, IL with Rev. Doug Stewart officiating. A private family graveside service at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO will be held with Rev. Carolyn Frus officiating.