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George D. ‘Doug’ Hilbert, an outstanding high school and college athlete who later was a commercial real estate executive, dies

Lacrosse was George D. "Doug" Hilbert's favorite sport.
Lacrosse was George D. "Doug" Hilbert's favorite sport.

George D. “Doug” Hilbert, who was a standout high school and college athlete at both Boys' Latin School and the University of Virginia, died Aug. 21 of kidney failure and cancer at the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center. The Towson resident was 72.

“The French have a saying, ‘nes plus ultra,’ which means the highest level of quality, and that was certainly Doug Hilbert,” said Bruce L. Regan, a high school classmate and longtime friend. “He was a great friend and athlete, and had a great sense of humor. He was a delightful person, and his death is a great loss.”

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He added: “He had a remarkable personality, was humble and direct, and had an amazing capacity for friendship.”

George Douglas Hilbert — he never used his first name — the son of George D. Hilbert Sr., owner of Hilbert Optical, and his wife, Barbara “Jinx” Hilbert, was born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton.

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Mr. Hilbert entered Boys' Latin School as an eighth grader in 1961 and in the ensuing five years earned nine varsity letters — three each in football, basketball and lacrosse, and was named Boys’ Latin’s Scholar-Athlete in 1966.

“When Doug came to Boys' Latin he had never played lacrosse, but he quickly picked it up. He had played baseball and football,” recalled Mr. Regan, a Catonsville resident. “Everything he played, he got good at it. He was a natural athlete and a tough guy.”

Known by friends as “Swan” and “Hillbilly,” Mr. Hilbert as a running back earned All-Private School first-team football honors in the fall of 1965, and was a member of the school’s 1964 undefeated football team.

“In football, he was a linebacker,” Mr. Regan said, “and in basketball, quite a scrapper and a great shot.”

He was the basketball team’s second-leading scorer his senior year, with 7.9 points per game.

His favorite sport was lacrosse, family members said. He played defense on Boys' Latin’s 1964 Maryland Scholastic Association championship lacrosse team and along with Regan and John Brizendine was a member of the 1966 “60-minute midfield.”

He was also named first-team All-MSA his junior year at defense and after coach Mace LeBrun switched him to midfield in 1966, he made first-team All-Metro as a midfielder his senior year.

“We had two midfield teams and we were known as the 60-minute midfield because Mace LeBrun kept us in the whole game,” Mr. Regan said. “A history teacher once timed our game and we were in for 58 minutes, the whole game. I guess I must have run 26 or 27 miles.”

After entering the University of Virginia in 1966, Mr. Hilbert continued playing lacrosse, becoming a first-team All-American and a member of the 1970 North-South Lacrosse All-Star Game.

Mr. Hilbert’s Virginia team that year shared the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association national championship with Johns Hopkins University and Navy.

Sports Illustrated reported in its May 25, 1970, issue that Mr. Hilbert allowed his opponents only one goal in his final nine games.

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Virginia in 1970, Mr. Hilbert continued playing on the club lacrosse circuit for the Carling Lacrosse Club.

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“We ended our lacrosse days together playing for Carling, and that’s when I stopped rocking and rolling and hung up my cleats in 1972,” Mr. Regan said with a laugh.

Mr. Hilbert worked in commercial real estate for more than three decades and was well-known in office leasing, management and development circles. He had worked for McCormick Properties, Blue and Obrecht Realty LLC, and retired in 2008 from Hearn & Associates, where he was vice president.

He was an avid golfer and enjoyed supporting his daughter in her athletic and musical pursuits.

Mr. Hilbert was inducted into the Boys' Latin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

“Doug was everybody’s best friend. He stuck by people,” said his former wife, Cynthia “Cindy” Wright of Owings Mills, a professor of journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. “He also did very quietly many altruistic things.”

“There was a great kindness about Doug which I will carry with me until the day I die,” Mr. Regan said.

A life celebration gathering will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Peaceful Alternatives Funeral and Cremation Center, 2325 York Road, Timonium.

In addition to his former wife, Mr. Hilbert is survived by a daughter, Samantha Hilbert of Timonium; two bothers, Michael Hilbert of San Diego and Jon Hilbert of Maryland; and a sister, Carol Nelson of Maryland.

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