Dr. Benny Joe Hill

Dr. Benny Joe Hill was born on February 20, 1935, on the family farm east of Cordell, to Floyd Hill and Eithel (Weir) Hill, and passed away on July 20, 2014, in Sante Fe, New Mexico. Graveside services are set for 11:00 a.m., Friday, July 25, at Lawnview Cemetery in Cordell. When Benny was five, his father bought a farm and moved the family four miles south of Rocky. Not long after, at the tail end of the Great Depression, he took the family to Tennessee, where Benny’s father found carpenter work in Chattanooga. They then moved to Knoxville, where Floyd worked on a huge building in the valley west of town. They later found out he had helped to build Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 1944, Benny’s family moved back to Cordell to stay. Benny attended Rocky schools, where he participated in baseball, FFA and was among the outstanding basketball players to come out of Rocky. He graduated from Rocky High School in 1953. Days before graduation, on May 1, 1953, Benny married his high school sweetheart, Jolando (Jo) Gayle (Deeds), in Cordell. For the first year of their marriage, they lived in a small apartment above the Rocky State Bank while Jo finished high school, and Benny commuted to Southwestern State College in Weatherford. They moved to Weatherford the next year and lived on campus until Benny graduated Magna Cum Laude in January of 1957 with a degree in Physics. Benny soon began working at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, where he worked with a theoretical physics group as a Research Assistant. He worked there until 1959. While working at Los Alamos, Benny continued his education through the University of New Mexico, earning an M.S. in Physics. Sons Kevin, Kelly and Kent were all born in New Mexico. Benny returned to Southwestern in 1964 as the chair of the Physics department. Minus some time to complete his PhD at Texas A&M University in 1969, Benny served as the chair until his retirement in 1990. Daughter Kristi was born in Weatherford. After that retirement, he began working for BDM in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was there until retiring in 2003. While at BDM, he worked mainly for the U.S. Department of Defense on highly classified and high security projects. Benny was honored as a SWOSU Distinguished Alum in 2006. He wrote and published a book in 2013 about the history of the SWOSU Physics department and the contributions of its graduates, many of whom have played vital roles in government, industry, space programs and defense. Benny enjoyed traveling, painting, working on family genealogy and spending time with family and friends. Benny is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jo, of Weatherford, sons Kevin Hill and wife Donna of Amarillo, Texas, Kelly Hill and wife Tina of Yukon, Kent Hill and wife Kristy of Murphy, Texas, daughter Kristi Hill of Weatherford, grandchildren Becca Sullivan and husband Zach; Kylie Hill and fiancé Chad Sanders, Katelyn Hill, Abby Hill and Ben Hill, and one great-granddaughter, Sydnee Sullivan. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Danny Hill and Gary Hill and great-grandson Aiden Sullivan. In lieu of flowers, the family asks memorials be made to the Dr. Benny Hill scholarship fund at Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
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