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Yale 62

Sandy HillFrancis S. Hill, Jr.

March 31, 1941-July 24, 2020

Francis Hill, or Sandy as we knew him, was born in Boston to Francis S. Hill, Sr. and Evelyn A. R. Hill. He then spent most of his life in his home state.  He came to Yale from Milton Academy, where he is remembered by fellow track team member Doug Bingham as “…being always friendly and easy to talk to and very pleasant to be around.”  After earning his BSEE, MS and Ph.D. at Yale he returned to Massachusetts, first to work briefly for the Bell Telephone Laboratories and then as a faculty member at UMass-Amherst.

A resident of Davenport, he was active in both the Marching and Concert Bands as a clarinetist. In our 50th Classbook he especially acknowledged Keith Wilson, the program director for both bands and Sandy’s clarinet teacher for 5 years, and stated “…his spirit, enthusiasm, talent and musical gifts solidified my love of playing concert band music.”

“Yale influenced my life in many ways, and fully changed it in others,” he allowed in the same essay. Sandy wrote that being awarded a Carnegie Teaching Fellow after graduation led to teaching Calculus to Yale freshmen, which in turn led to his falling in love with teaching “…and set me on an enduring course for life!”

The enthusiasm he evinced for teaching was rewarded by over 10 Outstanding Teacher Awards during his 32 years at UMass.  He pioneered video distance learning for UMass by recording his classes which were subsequently sent to industries to allow corporate engineers to earn advanced degrees at their workplaces.

Sandy’s interests in new developments led him to become a pioneer in computer graphics. He was known for bridging the fields of computer engineering and computer science. Accompanied by his wife Marilee, he enjoyed a year teaching at the Technische Universitat Graz, Austria and a half year at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

A stroke in 2000 left him incapacitated on his left side but it seems not to have slowed him down as he continued paying piano with his right hand as part of a weekly duet, and with a group of retired pianists in Amherst.

Sandy summed up his Yale experiences by noting that he not only learned a lot but gained “…also some courage, endurance, and perseverance.”

His wife of 32 years, Merilee Carlson Hill, three daughters, and four grandchildren survived him at the time of his death.

— John D. Hatch III