"Concerned with the General Welfare of the Deaf of Iowa"

Updated July 4, 2017


Harold "Dan" Hill

October 21, 1926 -- May 18, 2016

Harold "Dan" Hill, 89, of West Des Moines, passed away Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Kavanagh House on 56th Street in Des Moines.

Dan was born October 21, 1926, in Oskaloosa, IA, to William and Mary (Houghtaling) Hill. At the age of four he lost his hearing from spinal meningitis. He grew up at the Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs, cherishing summers at home with his parents and siblings, Elizabeth, Bob, and Jim.

His first employment was as a "Bobbin' Boy" at Des Moines' Boyt Harness, winding bobbins for sewers of knife scabbards and gun holsters in the WWII war effort. He later worked as a cold storage hand at Beatrice Meadow Gold Ice Cream in Des Moines, where during breaks he enjoyed his favorite, cherry nut. Successive jobs were in the printing field, a trade he learned at Council Bluffs. He was a bottle cap lithograph pressman at Crown Cork & Seal in Baltimore, MD for a short time before returning to Iowa, where he linotyped and ran the printing presses at The Knoxville Express. He later was a pressman at Wallace-Homestead in Des Moines, before finally settling at Bradley Printing in Highland Park, where he linotyped for 33 years. He was a member of the International Typographical Union.

Dan owned the Royal Motel at Veterans Hospital in Des Moines before his final employment with the U.S. Postal Service at Des Moines' Main Post Office, where he served as a Mail Handler for 9 years before retiring in 1990.

In September, 1949 he married Phyllis Schulze of Lake City, IA. Their union was blessed with three daughters, Danette, Judy, and Linda. Phyllis preceded him in death in February, 1971. In May, 1985 he and Bonnie Blakesley of Independence, IA were married at the Little Brown Church in Nashua.

Among Dan's many pastimes was coaching the Urbandale Girls' Little League baseball team. He was a participant in Des Moines' first Dam-to-Dam Race and by his early 50's had participated in 18 marathons, state-wide and nationally. In the summer he sailed his Sunfish on Gray's Lake. He enjoyed traveling and spring flings to Las Vegas with Bonnie. Golf was his favorite activity in retirement. He was a member of the Midwest Deaf Golfers Association. He loved his cocoa and USA Today at Panera Bread every morning. His hobby was collecting antique printing blocks of iconic corporations.

Dan was a member of the Iowa Association of the Deaf. In 2004 he penned "Primary Hall," a paperback chronicle of his early education and dorm life at Iowa School for the Deaf through letters sent home. In 2006 he was a recipient of the ISD Hall of Fame Award for his philanthropic contributions to the school through the sales of his book.

Dan will be lovingly missed by his wife, Bonnie; daughters, Danette Umbaugh of Austin, TX, Judith (David) Fellows of Overland Park, KS, and Linda (Jessica) Hill of Tallahassee, FL; 5 grandchildren, Rob (Jana) Umbaugh, Anissa (Todd) Everett, Angie (Gary) Timberlake, Jared Fellows and Jordan Fellows; 5 great-grandchildren and 2 step-great-grandchildren, as well as many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; first wife, Phyllis; sister, Elizabeth; and brothers, Bob and Jim.

Per his wishes, cremation has been accorded by Iowa Cremation. A private family memorial will be held in the summer. The family wishes to thank Dr. Ron Pick for his years of compassionate care of Dan, and Kavanagh House for their kind, compassionate care of Dan in his last days. Memorial contributions may be made to the Iowa School for the Deaf Foundation or Kavanagh House.

Thanks to Des Moines Register, Des Moines, Iowa and Bonnie Hill for the information.