"Well, it was fun Joel. It was fun every day. I really loved the job. I loved the career. I wanted to be a reporter since I was 6 years old. I did it... I had a great career and I appreciate your kind comments," Hugh Hill said to Joel Daly the day he retired 17 years ago.
He was the perfect example of the American success story. Hugh was from Gillespie, Illinois, the son of a coal miner. But World War II delayed that dream of being a reporter until his Army Air Corps. days were over. Then it was off to the University of Missouri to study journalism - and also partying - in which he claimed he majored.
In 1953, teaming up with Frank Reynolds and Alex Dryer at Channel 2, Hugh Hill became one of Chicago's first TV political reporters. He basically invented the game. Also in 1953, he teamed up with someone much more important. Her name was Jackie Williams, and it was the beginning of a 60-year marriage.
Ten years later in 1963, he and Frank Reynolds came to Channel 7 News, and this is where he would stay until retirement. His style was unique. When interviewed by Hugh, you stayed interviewed.
During a Chicago blizzard, then-governor Jim Thompson was on vacation in Florida. Hugh was the welcoming committee.
"Governor, 22 counties of Illinois are in the state of paralysis, and you declared the emergency, and you were sitting under a palm tree. Don't you think the people might get upset about that?" Hugh asked.
On the outside, Hugh was as blustery as a Chicago winter, and his volume was always set at the max. But that was the outside. Inside, there was a totally different Hugh Hill.
"Mary Ann, I hate to tell you the truth, but tonight the Equal Rights Amendment is dead. It ought to have a decent burial here in the darkened House of Representatives here in Springfield."
From politics to a parade for the first men to walk on the moon, Hugh loved it all and covered it all with an unmatched bravado. If it was about Chicago, he wanted to be part of it. He loved being there, looking over the shoulders of the movers and shakers and dancing with his wife Jackie. He loved that, too, and his five kids, 11 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. He loved family more than a million election nights.
Hugh was 89 years old when he passed away. And with that passing, a true original has faded from our TV screens and our lives.
Services for Hugh Hill were planned as follows:
Tuesday, October 22
3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Blake-Lamb Funeral Home
5015 Lincoln Ave.
Wednesday, October 23
Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
36 N. Elsworth Rd.