Past and present musicians and supporters of the City of Fairfax Band are mourning the passing on December 16 of Conductor Emeritus Dr. Thomas H. Hill. He was 92. A memorial service will be held on Thursday,
December 21, at 1 p.m. at Little River United Church of Christ, 8410 Little River Turnpike in Annandale, VA.
A Fairfax resident since 1955, Dr. Hill was the music director of The City of Fairfax Band from 1971 until his
retirement from that post in October 1993. His wife, Ruth, was the band’s librarian during that time. His association with the organization lasted more than 40 years. It started in the summer of 1970 when he played in the group during its second season. After leaving the conductor’s podium in 1993, he remained a band member playing alto clarinet for many years.
Dr. Hill was a graduate of Boston University and the Catholic University of America, where he earned his doctorate degree. While serving in the Navy he also attended Dartmouth, the New England Conservatory of Music, Holy Cross, and Northwestern University. He studied clarinet with leading Boston instructor Norman Carrel and Robert Marcellus of Cleveland Orchestra fame. He studied oboe with Catholic University’s Donald Hefner. He studied conducting with Francis Findlay and Lloyd Geisler.
His career included teaching posts in the public schools in Massachusetts, Maine and Virginia. He later was an instructor at American University and, for 23 years, at George Mason University as an associate professor of music. There he taught instrumental music education and coordinated the graduate music program until his retirement.
Under Dr. Hill’s leadership, the City of Fairfax Band grew steadily in size, ability and reputation. In 1981, Virginia Governor John Dalton selected the band to perform in concert at opening ceremonies for the Yorktown (Virginia) Bicentennial Celebration, an event attended by 19,000 people. In the greater Washington area, the band accepted invitations to perform at an expanding list of civic and community functions. Large audiences heard the band play at Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Washington, D.C. Convention Center, and the annual Independence Day Celebration in
Dr. Hill’s many honors and awards included The Fairfax Award in 1993 for service in the community; a proclamation of July 8, 2008 as Dr. Thomas Hill Day; and a certificate of appreciation in 2000 from The National Association for Music Education (MENC) for 50 years of service. He and his wife, Ruth, received the John Mason Arts Achievement Award presented by the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts in 2013. Dr. Hill was president of the Fairfax County Symphony from 1961-1962 and a member of the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts from 1995 to 2008.
Born in Nashua, New Hampshire in 1925, he was the youngest son of William and May Hill. Dr. Hill was married to Ruth C. (Caswell) Hill for nearly 70 years. She preceded him in death in June 2016. A son, David Allen, also predeceased him. He is survived by three daughters; Donna, Janet and Wendy (husband Jeff), eight grandchildren, and 19 great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Dr. Hill was an officer in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Expressions of condolence may be made to either the Little River United Church of Christ (indicate Thomas Hill memorial), 8410 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA 22003 or to the City of Fairfax Band in his name.
Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Demaine Funeral Home in Fairfax, VA.