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Former Carroll teacher, director Richard Hill remembered for his dedication to music and education

Richard Hill was embedded in Carroll County’s music scene for decades. He taught music to students in the public schools and led a band for an NFL team. When he was home, the music continued to buzz throughout his home.

“Our house was always noisy, and now, it’s so quiet,” his wife, Loretta, said.

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Hill, 84, died Jan. 23 at Carroll Hospice Dove House in Westminster from Parkinson’s disease.

The Aberdeen High School graduate attended the University of Maryland, College Park, for undergrad and what was then Towson State University for his master’s degree. He taught music and band classes for 30 years within Carroll County Public Schools.

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County Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, was one of his students. Wantz said he had known Hill since he attended Francis Scott Key High School during the 1970s. Hill was the instrumental teacher there and Wantz played the clarinet. That is until Hill influenced him to play what was needed at the time. He played percussion, the saxophone and was later a drum major.

“Mr. Hill was a great teacher and got the best of our students,” he said.

Trumpet player Richard Hill rehearses for a performance in 2008. A longtime musician and teacher, Hill died Jan. 23.
Trumpet player Richard Hill rehearses for a performance in 2008. A longtime musician and teacher, Hill died Jan. 23. (Phil Grout / Patuxent Publishing)

Hill played the trumpet or cornet with the Aberdeen Fire Department Band, the Westminster Municipal Band, the Carroll Community Band and more. He also played and directed the marching band for the Baltimore Colts.

“He played a mean trumpet,” the commissioner said.

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Wantz said Hill took some of his students to a Colts practice one evening and that resulted in Wantz joining the band. The two of them later volunteered together at Pleasant Valley Fire Company and Wantz said Hill and his wife were “great supporters of mine” when he ran for county commissioner.

Wantz said they had a long history together and he was sad to see him go.

Hill also taught private music lessons at Coffey Music in Westminster. The owner, Bob Coffey, said Hill was a big supporter of music and music education. He also could make Coffey laugh.

“He always had jokes with him and a very dry sense of humor,” he said. “He was a good guy. Solid human being.”

Not only did Hill play in the Westminster Municipal Band, he also directed it.

During a strawberry social at the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company, Richard Hill directs the Westminster Municipal Band in 1998. Hill, a musician and a teacher, died Jan. 23.
During a strawberry social at the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company, Richard Hill directs the Westminster Municipal Band in 1998. Hill, a musician and a teacher, died Jan. 23. (Elizabeth Malby / XX)

Sandra Miller, the current director, was the assistant director when Hill was the director. She took over from Hill in 2000 and remembers working with him in the 1990s. She remembered him as a dedicated member of the group.

“He was just a quiet kind of guy, but he enjoyed playing,” she said. “His musical talent really benefited the group. He was missed when he left the band.”

His hobbies extended beyond music. He worked part time at Wheeler Automotive Group, attended Westminster Baptist Church where he served as a nursery school teacher, historian, 50th anniversary committee and instrumentalist. He was a member of the International Trumpet Guild, Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity and part of Masonic Lodge #046.

Richard Hill, former president of Maryland's Retired Teacher Association, poses in front of the emblem in 2003. Hill died Jan. 23.
Richard Hill, former president of Maryland's Retired Teacher Association, poses in front of the emblem in 2003. Hill died Jan. 23.

He was a member of Carroll County Teachers Association. He served as president, negotiations team member, treasurer and as chair of the grievance committee. He was also part of Maryland State Teachers Association and National Education Association where he served as a convention delegate for each. When he retired from teaching, he was a member of the Carroll County Retired Teachers Association and Maryland Retired School Personnel Association where he held the presidency for a time for both groups. And for the National Retired Teachers Association, he served as a convention delegate.

Hill’s wife, Loretta, said the music bug was passed down to their son, Darrick. The two played together in the Westminster Municipal Band for some time, Loretta said, and Darrick later joined a band in the Army.

Loretta said she supported Hill’s music. She would attend his concerts and would call his band members so they didn’t miss the parade.

But Hill helped Loretta with her hobbies as well, she said. She pulled him into volunteering at The Shepherd’s Staff and the two also helped at Westminster and Pleasant Valley fire departments as well as helping out with bingo nights and sending care packages, including dozens of cookies, to Army soldiers.

She said Hill was involved with so many things it was hard to keep up with. But music was his passion and Loretta said he was into any shape and form of it.

“Except,” she said, “for today’s music.”

Richard Hill, a former teacher in Carroll County, poses with former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, R, at a Maryland Retired Teacher Association Convention in September 2005. Hill died Jan. 23.
Richard Hill, a former teacher in Carroll County, poses with former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, R, at a Maryland Retired Teacher Association Convention in September 2005. Hill died Jan. 23.

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