A Pretty Good (and Long) Life…
November 25, 2002 – Francis Hill is one of those men who cooks his own breakfast every morning — despite being in a wheelchair. Moving around the kitchen of the old family farm’s home place with confidence, Hill has no problem preparing what he wants to eat. When the newspaper arrives, he is quick to grab the sports section. A big sports fan, he looks forward to a new season of Indiana University basketball.
Born February 10, 1904 in Veale Township, Hill attended a small one-room school until his father said he’d had enough education. He married when he was 32 and raised five daughters and a son. “If we had married sooner, we would have had to ask the neighbors to help raise all the kids,” he said with a grin.
Over the years, he farmed and plastered and did “hard work.” “I was too young to serve in the first World War,” said Hill. “And then, when World War II came, I had a wife and five children and they didn’t take men who had that big of a family — that many people depending on them.”
During the Depression, he recalls many people depending on others and times being particularly hard. “I worked on the farm and I remember milking cows and mother having us take some of the milk to the soup line in Washington. A lot of people needed help and we had the milk to share. Those were hard times.”
Hill says he never thought about living very long. “When I was a kid, we all grew up thinking we’d live to be about 65,” said Hill. “We had a saying that if someone lived past that, the Lord wouldn’t have them and the devil wasn’t ready for them.” Hill’s long life seems to be common in his family. “I had three aunts who lived a long time,” he said. “One died at age 99, one at 103, and one at 104.”
Six years ago, Hill had surgery to remove a brain tumor. Since then, Daviess Community Hospital’s Home Care Agency has helped him care for himself. He’s done well since the surgery. Three years ago, on his 95th birthday, he had surgery to remove his gallbladder. “I guess it just wore out,” he said. Hill had a normal recovery and returned home after the surgery.
“My son lives here with me now,” said Hill. “He moved from Newburgh back to Washington after his wife died. I help him and he helps me.”
When asked what he believes are the three biggest things that have changed the country, Hill didn’t hesitate to answer. “Prohibition, women’s right to vote, and television,” he said, “and none of them have been very good.”
Despite those things, Francis Hill still cooks breakfast, lives on the family farm, and watches IU basketball. Pretty good for someone who will turn 99 in February.