- Stella's Life Sketch -
Other Hill Family Histories
The Life Sketch of Stella Cora Hill Hunt
Given by her grandson, Ken Mecham, at her funeral in Carey, Idaho
I’m grateful this day for the opportunity that I have of sketching the life of a fine woman who lived here upon the earth and fulfilled admirably the greatest of all callings as Mother, Grandmother, and Great Grandmother. I am particularly grateful to the family for allowing me the honor of paying tribute to Grandma.
Stella Cora Hill was born October 12, 1900, in Ora, Idaho. She was the daughter of William Henry Hill, Jr. and Christena Sophia Johnson. She lived on an eight-acre farm that her father had broken out of sagebrush with a team and a hand plow. Their home was a log cabin with a dirt roof from which, Grandma said, always grew a variety of beautiful flowers and a bunch of stubborn weeds. They had a few cows and it was one of her responsibilities to accompany LaVon, her brother, each night to bring them in so they could be milked. From those experiences, Grandma gained a love of flowers and the out-of-doors. Her yard was always full of a colorful array of blooming plants, which made Grandma’s place a little bit of Eden here on earth for each of us, as we grew through childhood and into adulthood.
When she was eleven years old, her father died suddenly of typhoid fever. After that, times were quite difficult and often the family had to walk to school and church, but Grandma Hill made sure that they attended both.
Christmases were special times, and though there were never many gifts, those that were received were highly prized. One year when Grandma was about in the sixth grade, she got a doll for which her mother had sewn a petticoat and dress. It was the most gorgeous thing she had even seen and she loved to play with it. She was busy with it one day when one of her brother’s friends came to call. He was a handsome young man with black hair, but Grandma took an instant dislike to him because he teased her about playing with dolls at her age. Little then did she care of know that this young man was Purcell Hunt, the man whom she would later marry and spend a lifetime with.
Several years ago, Don and Billie interviewed Grandma and asked her what finally attracted her to Grandpa. Her reply was, “He was a good dancer and he was good looking and he kept his clothes pressed and clean … he liked to dress up. You never saw him when his pants didn’t have creases that could cut like a knife. His ties were always just perfect and his hair combed straight back. I don’t know what he liked about me. I was a good dancer and I could sing.”
Whatever the attraction, the feeling was mutually shared, for on November 29, 1920, they were married at Ora, Idaho. Most of their married life was spent farming and ranching in the states of Idaho and Utah. They moved from Dietrich, Idaho, to Carey in November of 1937 and spent the rest of their lives ranching here. Grandma spent much of her time helping Purcell and her family harvest the fields. She could often be seen driving her team on the mowing machine during the haying season and cooking for the crews that put up the hay. No one ever went away from Grandma’s table hungry, nor was better fed anywhere in the valley. Her greatest specialty to her grandchildren was sugar cookies, which she always hid away in just the spots where she knew they would look first.
As long as she was able, Grandma always had a large garden, and many hours were spent canning and preserving the fruits and vegetables that she raised. She also made her own butter, and I can remember watching her churn the cream and magically turn it into butter before my very eyes. In fact, in those days, I don’t think there was anything that Grandma couldn’t do.
She was a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Although it was sometimes necessary to drive a team and wagon, or ride horseback the six miles to church, she always worked hard to get her children there and to keep them active. As a young woman, she had a nice voice and loved to sing in the church choir. Her interest and activity in the church remained constant throughout her life. On many occasions, as I visited with her in Hailey, she expressed gratitude for the church and for those in it who took the time to visit her and bring the sacrament, that she might renew her covenants to a Father in Haven, whom she always viewed as being gracious and kind. She was grateful to those of you who were assigned as her home teachers and visiting teachers, and for the time that you took out of your busy lives to enrich hers.
But most of all, and greatest of all, Grandma was Grandma. She loved us and shared her life with us selflessly. I don’t remember when she sang in the choir, for the Grandma that I knew always had white, silken hair and a soft, whispery voice. But I do remember her love for dancing and in my younger years had the opportunity of escorting her onto the floor. She was a marvelous dancer.
I remember Grandma in the barn, leaning against the old red Holstein cow, pulling gallon after gallon of milk from her, morning and night, to feed calves and thirsty grandchildren. I remember the sugar cookies, and sharing dinner with her and Grandpa, and the laughter at night that was more sparkling and bright than any of the stars in heaven. I remember Grandma the day that Grandpa went to the sale to buy a cow and came home with a race horse instead; and I remember the look in her eye as Gail Parke came to haul the milk the following morning and complimented her on her new “cow.”
I remember the visits that Aunt Mick and Aunt Vesta made, and how Grandma enjoyed them. Oh, what a joyous racket there was during those times as the three of them teased and cajoled the days and nights away.
And, I remember the Father’s Days and Mother’s Days when the family would get together for the baseball games in the pasture west of the house up on the ranch. I remember Grandpa running around the bases, and Grandma sitting in her lawn chair keeping score and being just as intently involved in that game as anyone who was playing.
I remember how much she loved the early morning – how she seemed to like to meet the sun; and I remember, as I stayed with her and Grandpa after he became ill, how clear that whispery voice would cut through my foggy dreams in those early mornings to tell me that it was time to milk the cows. She never had to say it twice. She always had a way of making you want to do things for her, and no matter how much you tried, you always knew you were still far in her debt.
Stella was preceded in death by her husband, Purcell, and one daughter, Beatrice Mecham, of Carey. She is survived by her children: Ronda Hunt of Carey; Donald Hunt of Baker, Oregon; Mildred Barton of Carey; and Keith Hunt of Carey. She is also survived by twenty grandchildren, forty great grandchildren, and two sisters: Mildred Roberts of Boise, Idaho, and Vesta McDowell of California.
Grandma was an early riser. She died at five o’clock, Wednesday morning, September 14, 1988. How blessed we are that, in her journey through mortality, she touched our lives with her good humor and motherly compassion. Certainly, Grandma fit the category that Sir Edwin Arnold spoke of when he wrote, “God can’t be always everywhere: and, so, [He} invented Mothers” – and Grandmothers. She was a lovely woman and I am very lucky and very grateful that she was my grandmother.