Vernon J. Hills
Published in the Battle
Creek Enquirer on 12/20/2009
Vernon J. Hills Marshall
Vernon J. Hills, age 85, of Marshall, died Thursday night, December 17,
2009 at Oaklawn Hospital.
Vern was born August 17, 1924 in Albion. He came to Marshall as a child
with his family and has made it his home ever since.
Vern attended Marshall Schools and was an accomplished athelete as a youngster
and throughout his life. During high school Vern and his brother Dale
tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team at Bailey Park in
Battle Creek. Dale got a contract to play ball that day and the only reason
Vern did not was that he was too young. But Vern and his mother were invited
to go to St. Louis for a week so that he could work out with the Cardinals!
Later that year he became a member of the Cardinal's farm team and pitched
His baseball career was cut short by WWII and a call to service with the
U.S. Marine Corps. Vern entered the Marines July 7, 1943. He was trained
as a Communications Specialist and served with A Company of the First
Battalion 28th Regiment Fifth Division.
Vern participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima and witnessed the raising
of the flag on Mt. Surabachi. Later he was part of the Marine Corps occupying
force of Japan. Vern was honorably discharged on May 17, 1946. Vern returned
to Marshall and completed his high school education that was interrupted
by both pro baseball and WWII. He then attended Olivet College.
While attending Marshall High School Vern became acquainted with Olive
G. Vance. When he returned from WWII, one evening he called Olive and
asked her to go out. She "supposed she could" and the rest became
history! Vern and Olive were married in Ft. Wayne, Indiana August 1, 1948
by Olive's uncle who was a minister.
Vern worked for Post Cereals in Battle Creek for 60 years. He started
working there while in high school during the tenure of C.W. Post as a
press operator to help support his family. After WWII he returned to Post,
working his way up to become their Quality Control Manager.
His first retirement from Post was in January of 1989. General Foods asked
him to come back to Post Cereals after trying other "options"
to manage Quality Control. He did return to manage Quality Control for
the next 13 years, retiring again in the mid 1990's.
Vern enjoyed sports. He was the pitcher for the Battle Creek All-Star
Baseball Team and pitched against Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers
in 1950 in a game in Battle Creek. Vern said he threw a fast ball "that
was up around 90MPH." and a knuckle curve but claimed to have "lousy
He enjoyed golfing and bowling which he was also very accomplished at.
Vern was a regular sight jogging in Marshall until his health prevented
him from it. He was a member of Minges Hills Racquet Club where he enjoyed
playing tennis. Table Tennis was another favorite sport and Vern fared
well in several tournaments.
Vern was a Cub Scout Den Leader when son Sean was young. He was a ham
radio operator and member of SMARS. He enjoyed working on televisions
and earlier in life was a certified TV repairman running a business on
the side out of his home while working for Post. Olive became tired of
side stepping the numerous televisions dropped off for Vern to fix and
that sideline became a thing of the past!
Vern's life was prioritized by his dedication to family first, with time
with wife Olive and his sons and later grandchildren bringing him great
joy. His enjoyment of athletics was another memorable and profoundly affecting
part of his life.
Surviving are his wife, Olive; 3 sons, Vance J. (Jacqueline) Hills of
Jackson, Forest W. (Kathryn) Hills of Dexter and Sean K. (Marissa) Hills
of Chicago; 4 grandchildren, Joshua Hills, Amanda Arbuckle, Jilisa Bowen
and Nathaniel Hills; and 4 great-grandchildren, Dominic Hills, Carter
Arbuckle, Izabella Hills, and Avery Arbuckle.
He was preceded in death by his parents and 2 brothers Dale A. Hills and
Forest E. "Babe" Hills.
Friends may call at the Craig K. Kempf Funeral Home and Cremation Services,
723 Old 27 North, on Monday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. where family will be
present to greet friends and share memories from 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8
Services celebrating his life will be held at Craig K. Kempf Funeral Home
on Tuesday at 11 a.m. with Rev. Roger James of Zion Lutheran Church officiating.
A luncheon will follow in the Kempf Reception Hall at the funeral home.
Committal services with military honors by the U.S. Marine Corps Honor
Guard will be held at Oakridge Cemetery following the luncheon.
Friends who wish may make memorial contributions to the American Parkinson
Disease Association or Oaklawn Hospital. Assistance available with memorials
at Kempf Funeral Home.
To sign the on line guest register and leave a message for the family