Bob was raised on a small farm outside of rural Hobart, Oklahoma by his farmer grandfather and home economics teacher mother, and possibly this childhood was responsible for Robert’s humble, minimalistic, and independent ethics. After high school Bob worked in Hobart briefly repairing radios, automobiles, and motorcycles. Soon after his marriage to Marie, despite economic disadvantage, they both decided to make the bold decision to leave town and attend college.
Robert graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineer Honors Society, from the University of Oklahoma. His college education and Marie’s were almost entirely funded by odd jobs running in parallel with his normal engineering course load, and also by his ROTC scholarship.
Robert was a devoted tutoring father who literally and figuratively built the house that his family lived in. For example, he assisted each of his children in turn with homework along with innumerable young adult car and home repair projects.
His almost five decade career at LANL included work on Nevada Test Site instrumentation, on the Ultra-High Temperature Reactor Experiment (UHTREX) project electronics, and finally within the operations group at Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility (LAMPF). Both at UHTREX and LAMPF, Robert made large contributions to some of the earliest examples of computerized physics project instrumentation and control systems.
Robert and his wife Marie were, in the nineteen seventies and eighties, dog obedience instructors within the Los Alamos Dog Obedience Club (LADOC). Robert was also a volunteer bookkeeper and board-member within the Self Help organization. Robert was an avid contract bridge player, enjoying the daily lunchtime bridge game at LAMPF, and later obtaining the ranking of lifetime master within the Los Alamos Contract Bridge club. He also very much enjoyed his long daily walks with his dogs on the forested Los Alamos trails.
His gifted abilities fixing almost anything with leftover parts on-hand are legendary amongst colleagues, friends, and family. Stories abound; some examples include fixing intermittent system boot gremlins at UHTREX resulting from misaligned circuit boards in the earliest IBM mainframe computers, fixing a failed auto’s electronic ignition system using only a roll of remnant bailing wire found hanging on a fence along the highway south of Farmington NM, and stitching a significant skin avulsion on his Brittany dog’s leg closed with leftover monofilament fishing line and a large sewing needle.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife Marie Hill, and later by his friend Winnie Berry, both local Los Alamos music teachers. He is survived by his son Bruce Hill (Kathy) of Redwood City CA, son Jeffrey Hill (Mary Ann) of Los Alamos NM, son Charles Hill (Cindy) of Los Alamos NM, and daughter Virginia King (Jason) of Pueblo CO. He is survived by grandsons, Michael, Kevin, Zachary, Nicholas, and Christopher. He is survived by great-grandchildren Jaxon, Sydney, and Levi.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Self Help, 2390 North Road Los Alamos, NM 87544.
Robert’s arrangements were handled by Rivera Family Funeral Home of Los Alamos and Espanola. Please visit www.riverafamilyfuneralhome.com to leave stories, messages, and condolences for the family.