Dimond Neighborhood News
by Carrie Campbell and Kathleen Russell
Celebrating Jim Hill (1928-2012)
Friends gathered at Fruitvale Presbyterian Church on Saturday, March 10, for a memorial service to remember Christopher James Hill (Jim), longtime resident of Dimond. Jim Hill died at his home in the Dimond on March 3, 2012, surrounded by close friends.
Jim Hill at Oaktoberfest 2009
Jim was a friend to many in the Dimond and the city of Oakland. A former Dimond Improvement Association co-chair, he served on the board for many years. Before retiring, Jim was an employee of Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
After hearing of Jim’s passing, many Dimond community members posted remembrances on the Dimond listserv. Councilmember Libby Schaaf, on behalf of Oakland City Council, presented Abdo and Farouq Alawdi and Tim Chapman, “Jim’s family,” with a posthumous commendation honoring Jim for his service to the Dimond District and City of Oakland.
Jim’s commitment to improvement of the Dimond neighborhood was evident in his knowledge, his even temperament, and the dogged perseverance with which he pursued projects and deciphered government regulations. He was especially good at dismantling bureaucratic roadblocks with untiring focus. Jim’s efforts leave a legacy, including the parking lot behind Peet’s, the flowering trees along Fruitvale Ave., and an initial effort to close a crime-ridden motel. According to Tim Chapman, “Jim really enjoyed living in the Dimond. He lived here for most of his adult life and contributed to improvements in the Dimond that we now enjoy.”
Jim Hill was a kind and compassionate man. He supported his wife Helen’s dedication to rescuing animals, which led to the founding of Hopalong Animal Rescue. Jim and Helen extended helping hands to the Alawdi family from Yemen, when they settled in the Dimond twenty-five years ago. Helen’s death in 2001 was difficult for Jim, whose only other family members lived in Canada. Jim’s health declined, and as Jim had made the neighborhood his family, the neighborhood responded in kind. For the past several years, close friend Tim Chapman attended to Jim, along with Abdo and Farouq Alawdi. Friends gathered round to ensure Jim remained comfortable at home while listening to jazz and enjoying walks in Dimond Park.
Pastor Abby King-Kaiser presided at the service, and Marilyn Miller shared memories of Jim, as did Abdo and Farouq. Toni Locke read a letter of condolence from Dick Spees. Richard Cowan spoke of Jim’s efforts and character. Sarah Cohen and Wim Kees Van Hout remembered Helen and Jim from early days at Hopalong. Lillian, Nettie, and Rejoyce Stovall sang, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and, at Tim’s request, “Let the Circle Be Unbroken.” Kathleen Russell spoke of the caring efforts of “Jim’s family” Tim, Abdo, Farouq, Marilyn, and caretaker Clarisela Fernandez.
Following this service, Abdo and Farouq hosted a reception where friends recalled Jim and Helen Hill and their service to this community. Appreciation is extended to Stan Dodson of La Farine Bakery, Karen Marie Schroeder, and Sandy Dolan of Bells & Whistles, who also contributed to this celebration.
Abdo, Farouq, and Tim are traveling to Vancouver, Canada, to return Jim’s ashes to his birthplace.