By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
While Charles Edward Hill Sr. went through many health issues during the last years of his life, family members and friends can attest that he never complained.
Some of those same family members and friends borrowed a page from Hill's book Monday by braving the cold during the monthly Memorial Flag Raising Service on the Tarboro Town Common and didn't gripe about the unpleasant conditions.
The flag-raising services, sponsored by Tarboro Golden K Kiwanis, are held monthly in honor of deceased Edgecombe County veterans. The honorees' American flags that were given to their respective families by the military, are flown over the Veterans Memorial for a month.
Approximately 100 people attended Hill's service making it amongst the highest attended. Paying homage to their comrade, the Tarboro Golden K Kiwanis and the Kiwanis (another club that he was a member of) made up the vast majority of the crowd. Hill, who was the founder of the Golden K organization, served as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and director. He also served as a the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina Kiwanis.
Hill's military career was just as productive. He joined the Air Force in 1960 and served four years. After receiving an honorable discharge he enlisted in the Air National Guard where he served for 28 years. In 1990 he volunteered for active duty during Operation Desert Storm. He was assigned to Washington D.C. where and supervised soldiers that were responsible for maintaining and monitoring the communication links between DC and the Middle East.
Hill, a charter member of the Golden K, died Feb. 21, 2013 after a lingering illness at the age of 72. The Lenoir County native was diagnosed with Multiiple Myeloma in 1995 and was given a 50 percent chance of living two years and a percent chance of living five years, said his son, Charles Hill Jr. He beat those odds and lived 18 years.
However, those 18 years were trying times. Hill had a stint put in heart, went through triple bypass surgery, went to dialysis five days a week, had a bout with pneumonia and suffered multiple mini strokes.
While batting health issues, he somehow gathered enough strength to volunteer his time and service.
"Even though he was struggling with his own health issues, he was offering rides to doctor visits when friends were in need or just a ride to the grocery store," his son Charles Jr. recalled. "He was always looking to serve not only his country, but his fellow man. He volunteered at the hospice by visiting patients, which turned into friendships.
"One thing I admired greatly about my Dad, is he never complained. When I asked how he was doing, if he said I'm ok, I knew he was having a bad day. "My Dad still had a positive attitude to the end. The day before he passed away, he told Nancy, (his wife) you know I think I'm going to beat this thing."
Hill's Flag Raising service is the last of 2013. Golden K. Kiwanian Donald Morris said the organization chose to shutdown the services during the cold months. The services will resume in March. Morris said the 2014 slots have already been filled.
Ironically the 2013 services ended with two members of the Golden K Kiwanis club members who were also humanatarians — Hill and Joel K. Bourne. Bourne was honored in October. Another coincidence is that they both died in the same week.