The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder George Richard Hill III of the First Quorum
of the Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1987 on the occasion of
Elder Hill's five-year call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
“I can’t remember when I didn’t have faith in Jesus
Christ, and I can’t remember when I didn’t want to pursue a Ph.D.,” says
Elder George Richard Hill of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
That statement characterizes the new General Authority
perfectly. Not only has Elder Hill spent his life in service to the Church,
serving as bishop three times, as regional representative over three different
areas, and as a counselor in two general MIA superintendencies, but he
is also a pioneer in the field of fossil fuels. In 1946, George Hill earned
his doctorate in chemistry from Cornell, serving as a branch president
along the way. The same year, the University of Utah hired Dr. Hill to
research fuel possibilities in Utah. In 1951, the school asked him to start
the Department of Fuels Engineering. He says, “In order to organize the
new department, I had to offer nine courses, none of which I had ever taken.”
He met the challenge, though, and the department’s work soon gained a grant
from the federal government.
From 1966 to 1972, Dr. Hill served as dean of the
College of Mines and Mineral Industries at the university. Then he was
appointed director of the Office of Coal Research, U.S. Department of the
Interior, and moved to Washington, D.C. From
there, he went to the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto,
California, to direct its Fossil Fuel Department. In 1977, he returned
to Salt Lake City to accept an endowed chair from the University of Utah,
the Envirotech Professor of Chemical
Engineering, which allowed him more freedom in teaching and research.
“For us teaching types, an endowed chair is like
heaven,” he explains, smiling. Over the years, Dr. Hill has written more
than one hundred articles for professional journals and received numerous
awards, including the Henry H. Storch Award presented by the American Chemical
Society and an honorary science degree from Brigham Young University.
Elder Hill was born 24 November 1921 in Ogden, Utah.
“My parents set a solid foundation in church and education,” Elder Hill
says. His parents, George Richard, Jr., and Elizabeth McKay Hill (sister
to President David O. McKay), both served as
deans of colleges at what is now Utah State University. His father
was also general superintendent of the Sunday School. “My father has been
a real motivator and role model for me,” Elder Hill continues. “Both of
us received the Silver Buffalo and Silver
Antelope awards from Scouting. One of his teachings that has had great
impact on me is ‘There’s no limit to the amount of good a person can do
if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.’ ”
Elder and Sister Hill are a family-centered couple.
He met his wife, Melba Parker, at Brigham Young University, where he obtained
his A.B. in chemistry. They married in his senior year. The couple have
seven children and twenty-seven grandchildren.
Elder Hill, at sixty-five, likes to do things with
his children. He’s helped to teach his children to ski, and about seven
years ago, he and a son in Germany earned amateur radio licenses so they
could communicate. One major family enterprise has been the refurbishing
of the old McKay home in Huntsville in cooperation with the McKay family.
When asked about his reaction to his call as a General
Authority, Elder Hill said, “I’m thrilled to be able to serve the Lord
full-time. This year I arranged to retire from teaching to have more spare
time. The call couldn’t have come at a better moment.
Church service has been a delight for me. I think the hardest thing
about the call, though, will be leaving the grandchildren for long periods.
But we’ll just love them that much more.”
Elder Hill served but two years of his five year call
to the First Quorum of the Seventy before he was released and called into
the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 1, 1989. He faithfully filled
the remainder of his call in the Second Quorum and was honorably released
on October 2, 1992
On April 26, 2001, the LDS News, an Internet based news service, reported
Elder Hill's death as follows:
Elder George R. Hill III, 79, a former member of the Quorum of the Seventy
and an eminent chemist who was a world authority on coal, died Sunday, 22
April, 2001, of cancer. He was sustained to the First Quorum of the
Seventy in April 1987 and to the Second Quorum two years later. During his
General Authority service, he served in the Philippines/Micronesia Area
and Utah South Area presidencies. He was released in October 1992. He was
a respected teacher, community member, Church leader, and family man.