James (Jimmy) Riley Hill
It was a hot day August 28, 1932, but to much joy born to the late Robert Johnson Hill and Valeria Amanda Herndon Hill was their third son of four boys, James (Jimmy) Riley Hill. The adventures of those four boys were a story all on its on. Playing in the ditches, making their own zip lines, to mother telling them to get the chickens back in their fence, to her finding them lined up at the clothes line with a string and a worm.
Mr. Hill went to school like all kids did, but enjoyed their days off in the fall only to find themselves in the cotton field picking cotton. He went on to Jackson High and fell in love playing football, only to be transferred his senior year to North Side High but did not have enough credits to finish, that was okay: another year to play football. With four years of high school football, then was unheard, Mr. Hill enjoyed making touchdowns on Friday nights. It all ended well because he met his high school sweetheart there, Maggie Nell Turner, the star high school basketball player. She waited for him to finish school and they married September 28, 1952 at the home of her parents, the late C.A. Turner and Lena Syrena Pruitt Turner. Then they set out to make a life of their own.
Mr. Hill started farming with his brother-in-law, Jack Turner. As time grew, he loved farming. He had sheep, cattle, pigs, honey bees and farmed over 500 acres. In 1956 on April 4, their first child was born, Shirley Jane Hill, and then on December 3, 1960 their second daughter was born, Syrena Suzanne Hill. Among having children he still farmed. Then in 1963, Mr. Hill was named Tennessee’s Farmer of the Year at the age of 33. He was also vice president of Madison County Farm Bureau, along with being a member of the Young Farmers and Homemakers, Madison County Livestock Association and Tennessee Livestock Association. In 1963, Jackson Jaycees named Mr. Hill Young Man of the Year. Then in 1964, he was named Outstanding Young Farmers of America. After several years of farming, he went on to join his father, the late Robert J. Hill, and Jerry Dean Hill in Rebel Construction Company of Jackson Tenn. Nothing was ever to small or too big to conquer, they got it done. They were tearing down burned buildings in downtown Jackson to setting sewage treatment plants or setting the Pringles steamstacks, or digging ditches for waterlines for Jackson Utility Division.
In 1970, Mr. Hill and Chief Kelly Holmes of Madison County Fire Department gathered several members of the Fairview community to bring fire protection to the north end of Madison County. With help of donations, fish fries and yard sales, the community was able to maintain a building for the fire trucks. After several years, the community got their new fire station on the heart of the community. It stills stands as Madison County Volunteer Fire Station #6, and Mr. Hill went on to serve his community and Madison County as captain for 46 years.
As this community continued to grow, the city to the north, Humboldt, threatened to annex the community. Several members were set to fight the annexation to stand hard and hold the line. Mr. Hill too was there for that fight as well and they did succeed. The community decided to incorporate the area and become a town. It would be called Three Way because you can go three directions from their community North, South or East. When the state wrote in a new legislation for small towns, Three Way was able to form its small town. The first elected mayor was Jimmy Hill and he went on to serve proudly for 16 years. In those 16 years, Mr. Hill held stead fast to the taxpayers funds so that when it was time to build the town, they could do it without financial assistance. They first built a maintenance facility to contain the mowers and other equipment for the city. Then Mr. Hill’s pride and joy was the city park, Pine Hill Park, where the community could gather and enjoy nature at its best and it is beautiful.
Between these days of farming, construction, captain of the fire department and mayor, he was also vice president of the community center, aka Fairview Hunting and Sportsman building. Countless gallons of stew was cooked on Labor Day for several years so they would have funds to maintain the building. Yep, you guessed it, Mr. Hill served as the official taster of the stew for over 50 years.
The greatest joy of his was family, friends and his love of his Christian faith and his church, Antioch Baptist Church of Humboldt Tenn. Mr. Hill served in several different capacities for the church, Sunday school teacher, Sunday school director and others. But his greatest admiration was his record for 27 consecutive years of never missing a Sunday, that’s how much he loved his Savior and his church, and was a member for 79 years.
Among all this too was the fishing, hunting, square dancing, flying his airplane, rebuilding some equipment or an airplane or two. He was much loved by family and many friends. He will be missed.
Mr. Hill was proceeded in death by his parents, Robert Johnson Hill and Valeria Amanda Herndon Hill; his wife, Maggie Nell Turner Hill; and three brothers, Robert Lee Hill, William Houston Hill and Jerry Dean Hill.
He is survived by his daughters, Shirley Jane Hill and Syrena Suzanne Hill Jackson; James Brandon Hill (Laurin Baird and two boys, Jayden and Brady); granddaughter Syrena Amanda Jackson Rodgers; two great grandchildren, Aiden Cole Rodgers and Ansley Neveah Rodgers; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family received friends and loved ones on Monday, February 8, 2021 from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the north chapel of George A. Smith and Sons. An escorted procession left the funeral home for Ridgecrest Cemetery where a graveside service was conducted at 1 p.m. Dr. Bill Espey officiated the service.
Pallbearers were Brandon Hill, Jack Joyner, Jimmy Joyner, Aiden Rodgers, Jayden Baird and Brady Baird. Honorary pallbearers were Joe Joyner, Johnny Hill, Steve Lewis, Tom Herndon, Charles Herndon and Phillip Herndon.