Helen Williams Hill ’37 AM

Helen Williams Hill ’37 AM, of San Diego, formerly of Ann Arbor, Mich.; Mar. 28, at 106 years of age. Her mother died three years after her birth during the 1918 flu epidemic and at the age of 103 Helen published Searching for Sophie, a memoir about the loss of her mother. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in 1936, her master’s from Brown, and was enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana when she fell in love with fellow student Donald L. Hill. They married, had a family, and moved to Ann Arbor, where they both became part of the community of young writers and teachers at the University of Michigan. In 1963, she joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University and for many years was a professor of writing and children’s literature, serving as lead editor on three anthologies of poetry for children. In the 1980s and 1990s she transcribed and edited the diaries of her seafaring grandfather Capt. Edward Baker and the book was published by Duxbury Rural & Historical Society. As an advocate for people with mental illness, she and her husband founded Trailblazers, a rehabilitation center in Ann Arbor, for which she received numerous awards and accolades. After her husband’s death in 1998, she continued to write essays and memoirs and to lead a memoir writing group sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Michigan. In 2014, at 99, she moved to San Diego to live with her daughter. She is survived by four children, five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

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Class of 1937

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