Ernest H. K. Hillard

1922 - 2012

Ernest H. K. Hillard, 90, of Fulton, went to be with God and his family at sunrise on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, at Columbia, Mo. He was born Feb 22, 1922, in New Castle, Pa., the son of Margaret and Chester Hillard from Lancaster Pennsylvania who have preceded him in death. He had no siblings. His early childhood years were in Wheaton, Ill. where his Dad was a professor at Wheaton College. There he would play sandlot baseball and learned how to play chess. After age 12 he grew up in Chicago in the Hyde Park area of Chicago (University of Chicago). One of his fondest memories was getting $1.20 to attend the Cubs games (30 cents for the "el" train, 70 cents to get into the game and 20 cents for a hot dog). The Cubs were a lifelong love. He also had memories going back to the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. As a college student at the University of Chicago, he attended classes next to the building where the Manhattan project was being developed. Out of this research came the nuclear bomb, later to be used in World War II. He attended the University of Chicago majoring in English and foreign languages. He continued on to get his first master's degree and later a PhD in Spanish literature from the University of Illinois. He was fluent in French and Spanish and could read literature in five different languages. At the University of Illinois, he met his wife Evelyn at the Methodist Church mixer, the love of his life, for 51 years. She preceded him in death in 2004. After college, he taught predominately Spanish but also French in Iowa, Indiana, DePaul and finally Westminster College in Fulton Mo. where he stayed for 33 years. During the 1960s, ever a student, he went to summer school at the University of Wisconsin, receiving another master's degree in library science from the University of Wisconsin. Those summers were special times in our family's life where we camped and enjoyed the lakes of Madison. At Westminster College he taught foreign languages and during the later years worked as a librarian at Reeves Library. There he held the title of Government Documents librarian and was one of the reference librarians. Books, language and literature were one of the loves of his life. He retired from Westminster College working half time at the library. He had many good memories of the people at Westminster and of the students. He was never too busy and always available to help out a student who had a question. His lifelong interests included gymnastics, chess, literature, classical music, running, astronomy and cats. He started and supported several chess clubs in Fulton both at the colleges and in the community. As he said there was nothing better than sitting down with either his wife or friends to play a game of chess. He was a lifelong supporter of gymnastics going to gymnastic meets with his wife for over 50 years all through the Midwest. Developing this interest at the University of Chicago as a college student, he gave time and money to support gymnastics throughout his life. He worked out in gymnastics every day of his life up until the time he went to the Presbyterian Manor in Fulton believing that exercise was a necessary part of a good and balanced life. He also, in later years, in the early morning hours with Evelyn his wife, would run 2-3 miles a day around the track at Westminster. Besides gymnastics, language/reading was an essential part of Dr. Hillard's life. His passion for Proust, Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll and other literature were lifetime passions. He was constantly reading. He and his friends memorized large parts of Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare and would recite that back and forth with great humor. Language was very important to him and the correct use of the English language was a particular passion. Along with language was an appreciation for music. He could play the piano "by ear' and he would serenade us with many of the popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s on the piano. If you were able to hum a tune, he would play it for you. He is survived by one son, Dr. Alan E. Hillard, who is a physician in Columbia and his wife Sharon; three grandchildren, Robert, who is a physician in Greensboro, N.C., Laura, a Physical Therapist at Rusk, and Andrew Hillard, Logistics program manager at Computer Science Corporation. Ernest has three great-grandchildren, Aidan, Kate, and Julia Hillard of Robert and Alison Hillard. His wit, humor and wise counsel will be missed by all but we rejoice in his recent salvation and look forward to seeing him in heaven. Funeral services to honor Ernest Hillard will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 14, at Debo Funeral Home in Fulton with Pastor Bruce Williamson officiating. Interment will follow at Callaway Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends from noon until the time of service at the funeral home. In lieu of customary memorials, the family suggests memorials be made in Mr. Hillard's name to Westminster College, c/o Debo Funeral Home, 833 Court Street, Fulton, Mo. 65251. Condolences can be sent by visiting