Banker coached championship youth baseball teams

John Hill’s profession was banking, but some of the most lasting memories of those who knew him stemmed from his lifelong interest in athletics, particularly his 27 years working with young people in East Cobb Baseball.

“That was his true love,” said Cindy Smith, Mr. Hill’s companion of 28 years.

Mr. Hill started coaching his son John Wilson Hill, who went on to pitch four years at the University of Georgia, and stayed with the East Cobb organization, coaching and, for the last 15 years, serving on its Board of Directors.

“John was such a good coach and the kids loved him,” Ms. Smith said. “He loved working with teenage boys and coaching them and teaching them the finer points of baseball.”

East Cobb Baseball has produced 169 national titles since 1985. “We have several World Series rings in our house,” Ms. Smith said.

John Alvin Hill, 69, of Marietta, died at home Wednesday of lung cancer. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the chapel at H.M. Patterson & Son, Canton Hill. H.M. Patterson is handling arrangements.

Mr. Hill's athletic pursuits included collegiate baseball and football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As a football player, primarily offensive lineman, “John played on the North Carolina team that was in the 1963 Gator Bowl," said Mr. Hill’s friend, fellow banker and UNC alumnus and golf partner Vee Bundy of Roswell. "They beat Air Force 35-0. It was the first time UNC had been to a bowl since the 1950 Cotton Bowl, so it was a fairly big deal at the time, at least in those parts.”

A 1965 UNC graduate, Mr. Hill pursued a career in banking and served in a number of institutions in the southeastern U.S., the last 13 years at the Bank of North Georgia, a division of Synovus Bank, in Forsyth County. He retired two years ago as a senior officer in construction lending.

All the while, his passion remained youth baseball.

Guerry Baldwin of Kennesaw, president of East Cobb Baseball, said Mr. Hill “was one of the best role models that I’ve ever had in the program, a wonderful person for kids to emulate. He did great things for kids, helped them with college and getting an understanding of what it took to play there and to get through school.”

Mr. Hill worked with older players, ages 15 to 17, Mr. Baldwin said. “He felt he had the best influence on them,” he said.

Mr. Bundy said that among his peers, Mr. Hill “had a dry, kind of a cutting sense of humor. He was a fun guy to be around. He was smart. We’d talk about all kinds of different stuff – politics, religion, anything.”

“He was a great athlete, but later in life had knee surgeries and shoulder surgeries and this, that and another. So as is the case with a lot of us, his [golf] game wasn’t what it once was,” Mr. Bundy continued. “But he knew the game and he helped my golf game.”

Mr. Hill was a member of the Crystal Falls Golf Club and the River Bend Gun Club. He also shot trap and skeet and hunted quail in South Georgia, Mr. Bundy said.

Besides Ms. Smith and son John Wilson Hill of Cartersville, Mr. Hill is survived by his three other children Nikole Hill Edmonds of Marietta, David Hill of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Ashley McSween of Cumming; siblings Diane Swaim, Tana Pratt, and David Paul Hill Jr., all of Greensboro, and five grandchildren.