On Sunday, October 22, NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) will be offering an “In Our Own Voice” presentation. These presentations change attitudes, assumptions and stereotypes by describing the reality of living with mental illness. People with mental health conditions share their powerful personal stories. Join us after the service at noon in the sanctuary.
This is a monthly column helping us to get to know our friends and members in a deeper way. We thank Monte High for taking the time to do these in-depth interviews for us every month.
Somewhere back in 1999 friends invited Bill Hilty and his wife to a UU Sunday Service. During the service he witnessed David Miller and Duane Carr, who were delivering the lay sermon together that day, having a friendly intellectual argument, and somewhere in the back recesses of Bill’s mind a crack opened up, and light came pouring in (and Leonard Cohen was somewhere singing). Bill began thinking about subjects he hadn’t considered since college – heavy conceptions and suppositions of philosophy and religion. He realized that he liked these questions sifting through his head – and heart. He realized that he wanted this meaningful substance in his life. Bill’s been a contributing UU member ever since.
Bill was born in Ohio. His grandfather was raised as a Mennonite, but he had too many questions and chose the more liberal Congregationalist faith. Grandpa “Ray” went on to become a Congregational minister and founded the Kettering Church of Christ which exists still today in Dayton, Ohio. Bill’s family moved to Boulder, Colorado when he was three years old. He attended Sunday school at the Boulder Congregational Church until “opting out” of confirmation at the age of 13, and he did not get back into church other than for weddings and funerals until he became a Unitarian Universalist 20 years later.
Like many involved in UUCGV leadership, Bill shifts positions every two years. He’s almost run the gamut. He is currently serving on the Leadership Development Team. One of Bill’s most memorable leadership experiences was a weeklong trip to the Russell Lockwood leadership retreat, which he undertook to prepare himself for the presidency. (The UUCGV tries to send two congregants a year to Russell Lockwood.) He did more thinking in one week at the leadership retreat than what is required for a semester of college. He learned UU history and what the UU’s are all about; yet, he learned even more about himself. Although not one to apply labels, he discovered that he was a “humanistic religious naturalist with a mystic twist.”
Yet Bill’s principle commitment has been to family-- raising three daughters.. It might be more accurate to say that they raised him – to a higher level. He and Jill are blessed with three great kids: Bailey, India, and Maya. He is beyond grateful for the many precious moments he has shared with family, and for being able to participate in his children’s lives. Bill quickly adapted to being the only one in the home with a Y chromosome (including multiple female pets).
Bill’s got Jill, his co-conspirator, beautiful wife and loving-life companion, to thank in all of this –the wonderfulness of his daughters, his blessed life. They met at a weekly international student lunch during CU medical school. They had similar interests, so they started hanging out. They’ve been hanging out ever since-- travelling the world with the entire family, like Swiss Family Robinson traversing the wilderness, and worshiping at the Church of the Great Outdoors. Camping and river rafting. Hiking, biking, and jogging are particularly favorite activities.
Jill and Bill utilized the couples-matching program and left Colorado to complete their respective medical residencies in the San Francisco Bay area.. When Bill finished his residency in 1997, they moved to Grand Junction. They wanted to stay in Colorado, and the Eastern slope was becoming too congested for their liking. After researching hospitals it was clear that St. Mary’s was the right choice. Over the years the Hiltys have been grateful for this decision. St. Mary’s is a top-notch hospital and Grand Junction is a great place to raise children as well as an excellent fit for their lifestyle.
Oh, by the way, Bill is an emergency room doctor. He likes intellectual challenges. One of his challenges is to adeptly adapt to any emergency, or minor complaint, that comes through the automatic sliding doors. The hours are crazy. He rotates from night shift to dayshift and the shifts run over if things are busy. Bill can sleep anywhere, anytime. It’s a good thing he can keep his ever-changing schedule on his smart phone: Jill asks, “When do you work next?” Bill replies, “I don’t know.” Jill – “tomorrow?” Bill – checking his schedule. Bill’s job at St. Mary’s is evolving into more of a leadership, administrative role. He is currently the director of the emergency physicians group, and beginning in 2018 he will be the St. Mary’s medical staff president. Jill is a local family practice physician who performs international volunteer work annually, and “on the side” is manager and shared-owner of a local aesthetic skin care business.
September this year, Bill and Jill became empty-nesters. They are in the process of evolving, letting go to find themselves anew, and looking forward to new opportunities. They are finding a new phase, searching for new stories. They’ll have more quiet time together and more just-the-two-of-them adventures.
Bill is an eternal optimist; he’s sure he’s got time for one more project. His compassion inspires him to take on projects that he thinks will improve the lives of those around him. His hope to make a difference gives his life meaning and purpose. So, he always seems to be slightly overextended...
Life goes on… in endless song…