Roger G. Hill, 82

Roger Gettys Hill, entrepreneur, engineer, inventor, adventurer, sailor, astronomer, gentleman, beloved husband, father and grandfather, died on Sept. 23, 2008, at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago. He was 82 years old.

He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly two years ago, and fared well with treatment, to the point that two days before his death he walked hospital corridors on his own and joked with caregivers. But his immune system was greatly diminished, so that, virtually overnight, a virulent virus took away his vital functions.

He died surrounded by his family, including his wife and business partner of nearly 60 years, Emily Jonas Hill; daughter and opera singer Wendy Hill; son and CEO of Gettys, a global hospitality design and development company, Roger G. Hill II, and his wife, also in the hospitality industry, Eva Wassermann Hill.

Mr. Hill was born in Manistee, Mich. and raised in Woodstock, Ill. He attended the Todd School for Boys and later served as the headmaster there.

He attended Brown University, B.S., 1949, and Northwestern University, M.S. in Physics, 1956.

While in university, he expressed his lifelong commitment to social justice by founding the Lincoln Society, with membership open to all races and creeds.

In 1959, Mr. Hill, a professional engineer, founded and was the president of Gettys Manufacturing Company in Racine.

Gettys revolutionized the metal cutting machine tool business worldwide in the 1960s, shifting the industry from primitive AC electrical drive systems to DC servo drives and electronic controls. These were the forerunners of todayís CNC machines.

In less than 20 years, Gettys had manufacturing plants in the U.S., Europe and a licensing partner in Japan. The company was purchased in 1981.

In the late 1980s Mr. and Mrs. Hill purchased a controlling interest in Hydro Electronic Devices (HED), Hartford, a designer and manufacturer of electronic controls for mobile hydraulic equipment. Mr. Hill believed HED would replicate the success Gettys enjoyed, but this time in the mobile equipment industry.

Mr. Hill had the entrepreneurís ability to inspire a talented group of individuals though his vision, confidence and personal dedication.

Mr. Hill was elected "Wisconsin Small Business Man of the Year" (1978) and, with Emily J. Hill, the Arthur Young/ Venture Magazine "Entrepreneur of the Year" (1987).

He served on several White House councils, was a 32nd Degree Mason, and took leadership roles in many civic and business organizations.

Mr. Hill was the antithesis of a Luddite, embracing all the latest innovative technologies especially his computer, which kept him in touch with daily news and world developments. Upon discovering the iPod, his joys were listening to his musical favorites and podcasts.

He was the David Niven of Wisconsin business, dressing in Paul Stuart suits and colorful bow ties.

He enjoyed theater, opera, American musicals, jazz and the American Songbook.

He had a bold, infectious laugh; he enjoyed life right to the end.

Mr. Hill is survived by his wife of 59 years, the former Emily Jonas; his daughter Wendy Hill of New York, and son Roger (Eva) G. Hill II of Chicago; and grandchildren, Getty, Robert, and Madelyn. He leaves two sisters, Bette Robinson of Milwaukee and Joanne Styles of Whitewater. Mr. Hill is lovingly remembered by three nieces, three nephews, other relatives and numerous friends.

The Hill family extends heartfelt gratitude to all family and friends for their love and support during this time of loss.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts for prostate cancer research in memory of Roger Hill can be made on-line at http://foundation.nmh.org/RogerHillMemorial or sent to: Northwestern Memorial Foundation, 676 N. Saint Clair St., Suite 2050, Chicago, IL 60611.