Deceased January 2, 2021

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In Memory

Billy died on Jan. 2, 2021, in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he had lived since graduation. There he learned Greek and Latin as preconditions for the Presbyterian ministry, and he met and married Pauline. They had two sons, one of whom survives.

Billy’s path to the ministry was prompted by George MacLeod, former moderator of the Church of Scotland, who was a visiting lecturer at Amherst. He invited Billy to study at New College, Edinburgh, where he earned a B.D. in theology. Billy was assistant minister at St Giles’ Cathedral when, in 1967, “the royals” came to open the General Assembly and to visit the cathedral—the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip—and Billy got to shake their gloved hands.

Billy also enjoyed some fame earlier, when his speech for Professor Garrison’s class found its way into The New York Times. He praised “the gutsiest of all cross-country runners—the last man to cross the finish line.” Chris Knipp ’61 remembers the summer of freshman year, which Billy and he spent at Columbia repeating physics and calculus; their entertainment was Sunday church with an outstanding Scottish preacher.

Billy was much loved by his congregations, who, as Pauline says, “spoke of his gentleness and humor, his faithfulness and grace, his courage and wisdom—a strength in challenging times, a reassuring presence, a listener who led by example and had the whole trust of his people.”

Billy was a self-taught lutenist with a passion for Scottish and Italian Renaissance music, producing three recordings. He and Pauline loved Italy, a love formed when Billy spent Christmas 1961 among Paul Bracciotti ’61’s relatives in Fano and was enthusiastically welcomed as a member of the family.

Pauline Hill and Paul Bracciotti ’61