William Douglas Hill, Jr., known as “Billy” to nearly everyone, died peacefully at his home in Helen, Maryland in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 2, 2022. Billy was born in an old farmhouse in Maddox, Maryland on August 21, 1937. He and his twin brother Joseph Albert Hill, “Joe”, were the first of eight children born to William D. Hill, Sr. “Willie”, a sharecropper and waterman and his wife Anna Louise Hill, nee Morgan. His grandparents were Joseph Dixie Hill and Ida Hill, nee Thompson, and William Lee Morgan and Anna Morgan, nee Russell.
Billy and his brother Joe received most of their education from the St. Mary’s County public schools, except for the second grade when their parents had saved enough money to send the twins to Catholic School. Not long after the beginning of the school year, the boys decided that they did not like the new school, so they simply stayed on the school bus and went to their old public school. It took a week or so before the Catholic school called home and asked Mrs. Hill why her children had not been to school. The boys had a lot to answer for when they got off the bus that day. Billy attended Margaret Brent High School in Helen, Maryland through the twelfth grade with the Class of 1955.
Shortly after graduating high school Billy joined the Maryland National Guard and continued working various jobs. He was not sure what he wanted to do, but he was certain that he did not want to work on anyone’s farm. He eventually landed a job at Guy Distributing in Leonardtown as a delivery driver before moving on to Simpson Distributing Company in Waldorf. The company was owned by Jim Simpson and distributed Black Label beer – then one of the most popular beers in the country.
In the late 1950’s, Billy met and fell in love with a beautiful young woman named Shirley Ann Higgs. Billy and Shirley soon eloped and then returned to St. Mary’s County to be married in a Catholic church. Within a year, Billy and Shirley had their first child, William Earnest Hill, “Ernie”, born December 14, 1959. The infant developed a minor infection and was treated with penicillin. Ernie was allergic to the medication and died on Christmas Eve, 1959. He was only 10 days old. The pain of this loss is something Billy carried with him for the rest of his life, and always made Christmas an important, yet emotional time for him.
Billy and Shirley welcomed their second child, Dorinda Lynn Hill, on May 17, 1962. Dorinda was the apple of both of her parents’ eyes and they doted on her. Unfortunately, the stress of the loss of their first child and their young age, led to the couple’s separation in 1965 and divorcing a few years later. Billy and Shirley remained close even after their divorce, with each of them often laughing and enjoying each other’s company.
In the late 1960’s Billy often worked multiple jobs at the same time. One of those jobs was at the Horseshoe Club in LaPlata, Maryland. It was here that he met and fell in love with young waitress named Mary Linda Maddox, “Linda.” Initially, Linda was not very impressed with the newly divorced bartender, but she later said that he was persistent and made a delicious Pink Squirrel cocktail. After many months, the two began dating and eventually married in a small private ceremony. Billy and Linda welcomed their only child, Kevin Ray Hill on July 23, 1968.
For most of the 1970’s Billy managed Holiday Liquors in Waldorf, Maryland. Billy credited much of his later business knowledge from what he learned from this experience and particularly from the store’s owner, Durward Owens. Billy took a leap of faith and on May 15, 1980, when he left a good secure job and purchased the Halfway House in Mechanicsville, Maryland.
The Halfway House, in 1980, was a small building with a dining room on one side, a bar on the other, and a small kitchen in back. But Billy and Linda saw potential. Together, they worked tirelessly to build and grow their business, with Billy running the operations and Linda keeping the books. The couple would often sleep in the small apartment above the restaurant. Linda passed away on September 7, 1999, and Billy later sold the property to the Wawa Corporation.
Billy’s plans to retire did not last long, as he purchased a Charlotte Hall restaurant in 2001 and named it St. Mary’s Landing. Billy ran the restaurant with his wife Mona Hill, nee Zambrano, whom he married in 2004. The couple operated the restaurant for 20 years before recently leasing the business to new operators.
Billy is survived by his wife, Mona, his two children Dorinda and Kevin, and son-in-laws, Tony Hyde and Lance Boyden. He is also is survived by his stepsons, Fred Figueroa and Daniel Zambrano, and his grandchildren, John Adam Hughes, Brendan Hughes, Marlena Navarro, Sarah Hughes, Christian Zambrano, William Boyden Hill, and Olivia Boyden Hill, and three great grandchildren, Braden, Camilla, and Leiliana.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his son Ernie, and his brothers Joe and Johnny Hill. He is survived by his siblings Catherine Minor “Kitty” and her husband Don, David Hill and his wife Betty, Virginia Quade “Ginger” and her husband Rhodie, Connie Letourneau and her husband Fulton, Richard Hill “Ricky” and his wife Sandy, and his sister-in-law Jo Ann Hill.
When asked what his secret to success was, Billy said “I didn’t have any fear. My parents never told me to be afraid of anything, so I wasn’t.” He said that freedom and lack of fear allowed him to make decisions that other’s may not have made. He knew what he wanted and went after it. He also had a lot of fun along the way.
Billy will be remembered for his generosity and his commitment to the community. He was a sponsor for a Women’s Softball team for many years and enjoyed traveling with the team as they played in various tournaments. He also sponsored many t-ball teams, volleyball teams, and multiple fundraisers. He even donated the iconic Christmas Tree located at the circle in Chaptico.
Many people, particularly, in his later years, will remember Billy for his guitar playing, singing, and his band, True Blue County. He loved nothing more than entertaining a room full of people and watching them dance. As a teenager, he bought an old used guitar and taught himself to play by listening to the country songs on the radio. Over the years, he has entertained countless numbers of people at dances, private parties, senior centers, and the County Fair.
Billy lived a full and wonderful life, on his own terms and in his own way. He was a St. Mary’s County man – through and through. His memory will be carried on by those who knew him, loved him, and were changed by him being in the world.
The family will receive friends on Friday, April 8, 2022, from 5 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, 41590 Fenwick Street, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650. A Catholic Mass will be held on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of the Wayside, 37575 Chaptico Road, Chaptico, Maryland 20621, with internment immediately following at the Charles Memorial Gardens, 26325 Point Lookout Road, Leonardtown, Maryland 20650.
Condolences may be made to the family at www.mgfh.com. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home and Cremation Services, P.A. Leonardtown, MD.