Barbara Elaine Hill was born to Lute and Eva Forrest of Kit Carson, Colorado.
The fifth of six daughters, she grew up through the Dustbowl and Great Depression on the family farm.
Elaine was a piano prodigy, playing by ear, with both hands, from the age of 2. She won six state solo and ensemble titles on trumpet during junior high and High School.
She received a scholarship to Colorado Teachers College (University of Northern Colorado) in Greeley, Colorado, where she received bachelor degrees in both piano and voice with a minor in English.
At college, Elaine was a regular feature on a local radio program and sang with various dance bands. It was during one such band performance that she locked eyes with her future husband, Robert H. (Bob) Hill.
They were married in 1947 and lived in Iowa and Oklahoma before settling in Wichita, Kansas, where Elaine helped Bob start his own business, Wichita Office Equipment, in 1962.
Elaine and Bob were very active in their church and social lives, as well as being involved in both state and local politics. Elaine sang in the St. James Episcopal Church choir and performed and accompanied others for church productions. She also was Director of Christian Education for several years.
She served on the board of the Mental Health Association, worked for the 1980 U.S. Census, and was a featured performer in the gala event to close the city’s landmark Miller Theater.
She was also in demand as a holiday performer for several local companies, and it was Elaine’s voice heard during an early sixties Air Midwest commercial.
Despite her high school designation, “Least Likely to be Domestic,” Elaine’s greatest love was being a homemaker and mother to her five children. She passed up a scholarship to The Juilliard School to stay at home, where she sewed, canned, crafted, and cooked endless fabulous meals.
Her baked breads were legendary. Good music was in abundance, and the Hill’s home was always open to friends, family, neighbors, exchange students, and other travelers whom Elaine nurtured with her cooking and welcoming personality.
An avid reader, Elaine also loved playing Christmas carols with her family, following the weather, birdwatching, and fishing: she was feared by trout across the Colorado Rockies. She was a dedicated Kansas City Chiefs fan of over 30 years.
In 2001, Elaine and Bob retired to Waynesville, North Carolina. She and Bob celebrated 64 years of marriage prior to his passing in 2011.
In December of 2020, Elaine contracted COVID-19 and was unable to recover from its side-effects. She will be remembered both for her strong personality and her love.
Elaine is survived by her children, Robin (Ken) Macha of Houston, Texas; Lynette (Samuel) Carmelli of Edgewater, New Jersey; Elizabeth (Eric) Reitz of Waynesville, North Carolina; Robert H. (Debra) Hill of Belleville, Illinois; John Hill of Wichita, Kansas; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A private memorial service will be held at a future date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Haywood Community Band, P.O. Box 491, Hazelwood, North Carolina 28738. Please indicate your program of choice: The Scholarship Program (for college music majors and summer band camps) or The LINKS Program (Lonely Instruments Needing Kids), which repairs then provides band instruments to children.
For credit card donations, please call band President, Rhonda Kram at 828-456-4880. For more information on The Haywood Community Band, go to haywoodcommunityband.org.
The care of Mrs. Hill has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville and an online memorial register is available at “Obituaries” at www.wellsfuneralhome.com.