Mary Frances Hill died peacefully at home on January 26, 2020. She was surrounded by loving family and is happily reunited with her beloved husband of 69 years, Harold, who died 18 months earlier.
Mary Fran was a gracious hostess with thousands of friends. She knew what she wanted and was a force of nature to make it happen. She could drive from any seat in the car and could will parking spots into existence. She was amazingly thrifty and extraordinarily generous. She loved chocolate, travel, the summer home on Vashon Island, entertaining company, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and bargains. She made an indelible impression on everyone who knew her.
She was born Mary Frances Jennings on October 26, 1926 to Laura Bohlinger Jennings and Earle Willis Jennings. She spent her childhood in affluence, living in Kansas and New York. When she was 11 her father died, and the family fortunes were abruptly reversed. She returned to Clay Center, Kansas with her mother and sister Betty to live with her grandmother. They survived on what her mother could earn teaching bridge and later working as a sorority house mother.
After graduating from Junction City High School in 1944, Mary Fran went to Kansas State College, where she pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma and met Harold Hill. After graduation in 1948, she moved to Montana and taught high school English. Harold followed her there and in August of 1949 they were married in Bozeman. They headed west on their honeymoon for a new life in Seattle, a city where they knew no one.
Harold found work in the construction industry and Mary Fran set up house in Seattle and followed him to various job sites from Diablo Dam to Fairbanks, Alaska. Through her Kappa connections, church, and volunteer work, Mary Fran made lifelong friendships and began what became a huge social network.
Her son John was born in 1952, followed by Stephen in 1955. They moved from West Seattle to the dream home they designed and built on Mercer Island in 1963. They took an enormous leap of faith when Harold left the security of a good job to start his own construction company in 1968. Mary Fran’s thrift, support, and unwavering faith in Harold paid off when Hill Construction became a great success.
She joined the Women’s University Club, becoming its President in 1982. She was active in the Sunset Club, Seattle Antique League, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, Children’s Hospital, and Seattle Milk Fund. She and Harold supported United Way, Seattle Children’s Hospital, UW School of Medicine, Pacific Science Center, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Symphony, MOHAI, Cancer Lifeline, Youth Theatre NW, Mercer Island Center for the Arts, and many others. They were dedicated members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Mercer Island and also attended Church of the Holy Spirit, Vashon.
She is survived by her sister Betty Dunn; her sons John Gordon Hill (Ellen), and Stephen Hill (Beverley); grandchildren Anne Thomson (James), Megan Hill, Michael Hill (Liz Berry), Keith Bolling (Shireen Shahrivar), Laura Campbell, and Bruce Hill; and great-grandchildren Felix, Toby, and Jasper Thomson, and George and Eleanor Hill. Services will be held at 2pm, Saturday, February 15, 2020, at Emmanuel Church, Mercer Island. In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity.