Park View Elementary opened in 1962 and was renamed Robert C. Hill Elementary School in 1977. But who was Robert Hill?
Robert Hill was raised in Vienna, IL as a farmer. He moved to unincorporated Romeoville in 1958 and built a home in College View next to Lewis University. He worked at Stateville Correctional Center for a few months, but could not stand seeing people locked up. He then took a job as the head custodian of Park View Elementary.
He started there in 1961 and was a cheery individual who did his work thoroughly and with pride, whether it was a freshly waxed floor or just sharing a joke with a second grader and making them laugh. The school was always clean and well maintained and he would consistently make time to talk to the students, telling them about his job and all the things he did to keep the building in good shape. He kept up morale and grew geraniums for the classrooms.
Hill was a friend to everyone he met. His wife used to say he could find someone to talk to no matter where he went. He was not just the guy you went to when a mess needed cleaning or when something was broken. He was also the guy the kids went to when they lost their lunch money, the guy staff went to when their car wouldn’t start, and the guy you could talk to if you just needed someone to listen.
“Dad loved his work, I think, because he loved all the people,” recalls his son, Robert A. Hill. “He loved the kids especially. He was like a school dad, a dad to everyone.”
When Hill missed work because of back problems, he received hundreds of handmade get well cards from kids and teachers, proving just how much he meant to those at the school. Given this, it is not surprising what happened following his unexpected death in 1977 at the age of 59. When he passed away from an infection after gall bladder surgery, the students of his beloved school wrote a letter to the district asking to rename the building Robert C. Hill Elementary. The name was officially changed later that year.
This is the fourth in a series of six articles that explore the people the Romeoville Valley View Schools are named after.