In Memoriam: NMSU professor and alum Roy Dean Hill

Roy Dean Hill (Dr. Dean Hill), 84 years old, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, passed away Tuesday, August 22, 2017 from complications related to Parkinson’s Disease. He was born April 7, 1933 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Edna Fern Nelson Hill and Samuel Roy Hill. He was the oldest of five children, followed by two brothers, Lynn and David and two sisters, Lorna Burnett and Annette Onstott. He was an avid boy scout and attained the rank of Eagle Scout at age 14. He graduated from Salt Lake City South High School in 1951. He served in the Army infantry in the Korean Conflict from 1951-1953. He married Jean Okelberry Hill in the Salt Lake City Temple, November 21, 1956. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1956. He received a Master’s Degree in Chemistry from New Mexico A&M (now New Mexico State University) in 1958. He received a PhD in Chemistry from Michigan State University in 1961. He taught as a teaching assistant at the University of Utah, and then as a college professor for 55 years from 1956-2011, first at New Mexico State University (NMSU) from 1956-1958, second, at Michigan State University from 1958-1961, third, at NMSU from 1961-1968, fourth at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana from 1968-1979 and finally finished his professional teaching career at NMSU teaching in the Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry Departments from 1981-2011. Dr. Hill was named College Professor of the year eleven times. His enthusiasm for learning and sharing his knowledge resonated with students and he became one of the most recognized and loved professors on campus. He was extensively published in professional journals and magazines as a technical writer. He was featured many times in Hot Rod Magazine and owned a complete collection of Hot Rod Magazines ever published. He also had short stories published in science fiction publications. He wrote about engines, engine fuels, race cars, and classic cars. His hobbies included drag racing, re-building engines and restoring classic hotrods and running his engine dyno. He was the keynote speaker seven times at the Advanced Engine Technical Conferences in Florida. He served as the head of NHRA fuel check from 1958-1975. He developed a racing fuel called H&H racing fuels. He ran cars at the Bonneville Salt Flats and attended the yearly races at the Salt Flats into his 70s.
His interests and enthusiasms were not only in the field of science. He was a voracious reader and retained vast amounts of knowledge he acquired from reading. He loved to memorize long passages from poems and movies and would recite them at top speed; Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky was a particular favorite! He enjoyed reading science fiction and spy novels. Dr. Hill loved to sing. In fact, he met his wife at a choir concert. He was a member of the University of Utah Choirs, The Jay Welch Chorale and the Dona Ana Lyric Opera Society. He participated in more than 30 operas and musicals under the direction of Dr. Jon Linford from 1989-2004 at NMSU. He sang, acted, worked on sets and did whatever was necessary to make the productions a success. As his grandchildren watched his summer performances, Dr. Hill was able to share his love of musical performance with them, instilling in many a love of chorale and classical music.
He will be remembered as a fun loving, outgoing individual, with a sense of humor, and a twinkle in his eye. He was one to take his grandchildren on camping trips to the City of Rocks and White Sands National Park. He loved to fly kites. He created the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe as only a scientist could: through endless experimentation. He was also famous for his homemade pizza, strawberry ice cream, and rice pudding. He loved entertaining guests and making new friends.
He took many adventures with his children and wife. He traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. In his younger years he took long-distance bicycle trips through California, Utah, and New Mexico.
He was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served faithfully in various positions, including Bishopric Counselor, High Councilor, and Seminary teacher. He and his wife Jean served a mission at the Church Genealogical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah from 2004-2006.
Dr. Hill is survived by his four children, Cynthia Webb (CJ), David Hill (Vivian), Rebecca Critchfield (GL) and Denise “Blossom” Murray (Brad). He is also survived by all 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Jean Hill (2015), his brother Lynn Hill (2006) and his brother David Hill (1949).
Dr. Hill’s funeral services will be held Saturday, September 9th, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the LDS Chapel, 3210 Venus Street, Las Cruces, NM. Memorial services and burial in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah on September 26, 2017.

Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Sept. 6, 2017

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