The two met after some prodding from Dr. Hill’s mother shortly after he got out of the Army, where he was a doctor in the Pacific during World War II. The couple say they have always shared a great respect that has allowed the marriage to endure.
“Paul said it well when he said, ‘Submit yourself to each other under Christ,’” Dr. Hill said. “It’s a mutual respect. It’s a mutual love and a mutual submission. That’s about as succinct as I can come up with.”
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), who has known the Hills since the 1960s, calls Dr. Hill “as fine a man as I’ve ever known.”
“He’s always been a very, very upstanding citizen,” Tippins said. “He’s known to be just honest in all of his dealings. He’ll give you a good, honest straight answer.”
While Dr. Hill is 95 and Harriet is 88, they continue to raise 25 laying hens, two peacocks and five beehives on their 45-acre Hillgrove Farm on Luther Ward Road. They don’t have to make many trips to buy produce because they grow their own potatoes, corn, tomatoes, beans, squash and watermelons.
The farm isn’t as large as it used to be, since Dr. Hill sold 136 acres to the Cobb County School District for Hillgrove High School and Lovinggood Middle School, which opened in 2006. The high school will carry on the farm’s name, which was a combination of “Hill” and “Hargrove.”
Dr. Hill makes continuing contributions to Hillgrove High, funding a scholarship for a student to attend Young Harris College in northeast Georgia. The Hills plan to leave everything to the college in their will.
“We’re interested in education,” he said. “We don’t have any children of our own. We are interested in other people’s children. We believe in a liberal arts education in a Christian environment.”
Dr. Hill is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia. He entered the Army in February 1942 and was assigned to a portable surgical hospital in the southwest Pacific.
While he doesn’t like to talk about his time in the war, Dr. Hill recalls “an awful lot” of combat and trauma taking place while he served in New Guinea and the Philippines.
“We had a pretty rough time in the south Pacific,” he said. “We ate C-rations and K-rations and had wet feet. We got shot at a lot.”
After leaving the Army in June 1946, Dr. Hill came to Atlanta, where he began a 41-year career in general surgery. While spending a lot of time in Atlanta, the Hills bought the home they now own in west Cobb in the early 1950s as a country getaway for every other weekend. Since then, they’ve expanded the home, which started with one main room, in which they would sleep on a fold-out sofa.
The roads of west Cobb were dirt at the time, the county didn’t provide water and electricity was unreliable, Dr. Hill said.
“That house you can see over there, the antebellum house, it was here, but none of the others,” he said of the area’s growth.
The Hills moved to west Cobb full-time in the late 1970s, but back then he could still leave home at 6 a.m. and reach the hospital in Atlanta an hour later.
Since Dr. Hill retired at 71, he and Harriet have traveled the world, with favorite sites including Egypt and Israel.
More recently, their world travels have slowed, but the Hills still find time to compete in the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Tenn. Dr. Hill has claimed the world championship in the 70 and older age group the last two years.
“People come from all over the country to that big show,” Harriet Hill said.
The Hills, who have trophies and paintings from their favorite horses decorating their living room, still participate in several shows a year. While they no longer raise horses in Cobb County, they own 16 horses on a farm in south Georgia that participate in shows.
“I have trouble mounting now. I use a mounting stool,” Dr. Hill said. “But once I’m in that saddle, I’m all right. Riding a horse is balance.”
Dr. Hill also continues to teach Sunday school at McEachern Memorial United Methodist Church.
The Hills say taking care of themselves has allowed them to still be vibrant.
“We try to keep our body weight normal,” Dr. Hill said. “We don’t drink or smoke, and we sleep adequately. I think all that’s important.”
Tippins said the Hills have made a remarkable impact on the community.
“The community has really been blessed because of he and Ms. Hill, because of the character they bring,” Tippins said. “I wish we had a lot more like Dr. Hill. The world would be a much better place.”