Wednesday, February 19, 2014

In Memory of James L Hills

This may be a long post.  I give you fair warning.

My first two years of college, I attended Vincennes University.  As a result of some friends (Lindsey and Casey) introducing me to new friends (4th and Hart boys) who introduced me to new friends, it was not uncommon to find me at the Sigma Pi house.  In between classes I was there cramming for exams, doing last minute homework, and finishing off a beer before Student Senate meetings.  I had a few close girlfriends and 50 close guy friends.  In the Summer though, they all returned home and my girlfriends and I were stuck in Vincennes.

Enter James Hills.

I first knew Hills as "the old guy who takes care of the house" but he was really the spirit and drive behind Sigma Pi.  He was as bored as we were during the summer so it only made sense that we harass him all summer long.  And by harass, I mean, I really thought we were going to give him a heart attack.  For example, he was always complaining about the house needing painted.  So one day we painted it.

I don't remember the name of the color, but I remember it was Nickelodeon brand.  Hills arrived at the house before we were finished.  I hid behind the couch you see at the bottom of the picture.  Things went better than I expected when he looked around, smiled, and said "It's different!"

I spoke to him a few weeks later and offered to paint it back.  He laughed and said he thought it should stay. "If those boys won't paint it, they can't complain!" He told me there were other things worth getting upset over and this wasn't one of them.  I think he was just trying to make me feel better.

Other times, we made regular phone calls to his house asking for the code to get into the house.

Hills: "Why do you need in there?!"
Me: "It's hot outside!"
Hills: "I just changed the code today!"
Me: "I know! That's why I'm calling you to ask for it!"
Hills: "Fine. It's 2435. Make yourselves useful and paint the basement while you're in there!"
Me: "You still trust us with paint brushes?!?!"

One year, the Sigma Pi house had a fire.  A bad one.  From what I understand, it just "dun blowed up" ;)
I arrived just as the insurance adjustor did.  Hills told me I could come in with them, much to the adjustors obvious disapproval.  The place was a disaster, and I remember being devastated at what I saw, but Hills was already telling the adjustor exactly what would need to be done to bring the house back to life.

As much as he loved Sigma Pi, he loved the boys that were a part of it more.  It's always been obvious to me that the ones who got the most out of Sigma Pi were the ones who spent the most time with him.  I remember Hills letting me stay in the house at a time most people wouldn't be allowed to be there (they had a meeting or ritual or something) because one of the guys was going through some tough times and wanted to talk.

"Stay out of the basement and be quiet!"

I hadn't seen Hills in a long time prior to his passing, but I like remembering how I last saw him.

The only thing that worries me who is going to keep Grand Marnier in business?

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