By Seth Daniel
Kenny Hill was not the kind of guy who would pass you by on the street without a wave and a gentleman’s greeting.
In fact, if ever there were a friendly face on Broadway or in the Point of Pines neighborhood, then it was the smiling face of Kenny Hill – a fixture always wearing his patented scally cap on Broadway, the Point of Pines and in City Hall for decades.
Hill, 66, died on Saturday night.
People often say that someone they know had only positive things to say during his/her lifetime, but in the case of Kenny Hill, it’s positively true.
“He never had a harsh word for anyone, really,” said his brother and business partner, Tom Hill. “He also retained all his friends from early childhood on. He made all their weddings, celebrations and wakes. He was a very caring person, both for his family and his friends.”
Likewise, no one seemed to think ill of Hill, either, said his brother-in-law, School Committeeman Fred Sannella.
“I never heard anyone say a derogatory thing about him,” said Sannella. “He never complained. Even in his illness late in life, he would tell everyone that he was okay. In fact, when he was operated on not long ago, his son had to tell him that when the doctors asked how he was doing, that he would really tell them how he felt. It was typical of him that everything was fine and okay. He did a lot of anonymous things for people. He cared for people, and he liked to help them.”
Hill was the youngest of 10 children in a family that was and still is as ingrained in Revere as any family unit could be. He was the son of Herbert Hill Sr. and Helena Hill, and was born during World War II, a war that decimated the Hill family, taking two of Kenny Hill’s brothers before he ever really got to know them.
One of those brothers, James J. Hill, is the namesake of Hill Park.
Kenny Hill was raised in Revere and attended Immaculate Conception School in Revere, where he played on the baseball team. He also attended Newman Prep School in Boston.
Afterward, he went into the family real estate and insurance business with his father and brother, Thomas, in their former location at 250 Broadway, later moving to their current location at 375 Broadway.
At the same time, he married Carolan Hegarty and raised three sons, Christopher, Bert and Kenneth J.
The Hill family was also involved in several local banks in the Chelsea area, and Kenny Hill followed suit with that, serving on the board of directors of the Chelsea Provident Bank as chairman of its Finance and Loan Committee.
Beyond his business life, like so many in Revere from the old days, Hill was a political junkie who could recall the details of just about any local election from the 1950s on. With vivid details and capturing every political angle, he could tell anyone stories of a time when Revere political circles were more like the Wild West than a civilized governing body.
His enthusiasm for such things, though, was not as a spectator only. He served four terms as the Ward 5 councillor on the Revere City Council (1980-1987). He was the council president in 1981 and 1984.
In his elected position, he was known as a neighborhood-first councilor, and any thoughts of outside influences taking over the ward were quickly vanquished. He held local neighborhood council meetings and fought issues such as those involving the old Jacob’s Ladder nightclub.
“He believed in neighborhood government,” said his brother Thomas. “He worked hard at it, and if the neighborhood was against something, he voted against it.”
Additionally, he was active in several other political campaigns, including as an early supporter of William Reinstein in his runs for mayor and state representative.
Additionally, he served as an assessor at Revere City Hall for 15 years, six of which he served as chair of the Board of Assessors. He retired from that position only a few ago and returned to working full-time in the family business.
His activities in the community were endless and harkened back to a day when public life was a person’s private life, and making personal, face-to-face connections was more of a joy than a bother.
That was displayed through his memberships in the Knights of Columbus, the St. Anthony’s Holy Name Society, the Point of Pines Beach Association (he was a past president), the Democratic City Committee, the Revere Elks Club, and the Revere Moose Club.
He also loved to bowl, play golf and spend time with his three grandchildren.
Above all else, Kenny Hill should be remembered as a friendly face and a guy who one would always look forward to seeing.