Captain Shirley Ann Hill was born November 25, 1937 in Canton, Mississippi to the late Edwin H. Hill and Willie B. Robinson.
Shirley accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church and later became a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church. She was educated in the public schools of Canton and graduated from Cameron Street High School as Valedictorian of the Class of 1957. Joining the Navy as a seaman recruit she completed basic training in Bainbridge, Maryland and attended Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Illinois. Recognizing her skills and leadership potential, the Navy commissioned her under the Navy Enlisted Nursing Education Program after graduating from Boston University School of Nursing in 1964.
Highlights of her thirty-one years of active military service included a tour of duty aboard the USS Repose Hospital Ship off the coast of Vietnam, the Director of Nursing Services at Naval Hospital Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines and numerous stateside hospital assignments. She reported to Naval Hospital Newport in 1984 and served as Director of Nursing Services until her retirement from the Navy in 1989.
In retirement, Captain Hill was very active as a volunteer in the military and civilian communities. She volunteered many hours at the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and the Retired Activities Office at Naval Station Newport. She served as a member of the Secretary of the Navy’s Committee for Retired Personnel where she was an advocate for the Navy retired population and served as Chairman of the Medical Committee. Certified as a Rhode Island Long-Term Care Ombudsman, she advocated for nursing home residents.
Shirley was an officer for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and received the 2001 NAACP Community Service Award for her many years of volunteer work in the local community. She served as Chairperson of the Dr. Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration Committee for more than 12 years and was the primary organizer for the Annual MLK Torch Run, and was recipient of the NAACP President’s Award in 2017. She served on the Newport County Council for three years, was the Southern New England Area President and the New England Region President. Shirley also served on the Rhode Island Black Regiment Committee.
In addition to her thirty-one years of active military service Captain Hill continued to serve her country by actively participating in service related organizations dedicated to improving the life and conditions of service personnel. She did this through her affiliation with organizations as the Navy League of the United States (NLUS), a civilian organization dedicated to support the men and women of the Sea Services and their families; the Naval Sea Cadet Corps, an education/training program for young men and women sponsored by the Navy League; and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA.) where she served in several offices including President of the Southeastern New England Chapter. She was actively involved in the United Veterans Council, Navy Nurse Corps Association, Rhode Island Waves Unit 118, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and Military Women Across the Nation.
In 2014, Shirley received the Military Officers Association of America Leadership Award, was selected as VFW Veteran of the Year for her dedicated service, and was honored by Newport when Mayor Harry Winthrop declared November 9, 2014 as Shirley Hill Day.
Shirley entered into eternal rest on Sunday, September 2, 2018 at her home. She will forever be remembered by her brothers; Morris (Nancy) Hill, St. Charles, MO; Edward (Rosa) Hill, Detroit, MI; special nieces Alexa Hill and Laurice Rainey; lifelong best friend/sister Azzie Jackson Adams, Canton MS; cousins Curtis Powell and Jackie Dotson; a host of nieces and nephews; special friends Audrain Triplett, Anne Mishley, Lester Hoffman, Vincent (Linda) Messina, Julie Barnes; and many others who knew, loved and respected her.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 8, 2018 at 12:00 noon in the Memorial Funeral Home, 375 Broadway, Newport, RI.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Capt. Shirley Hill, USN, (Ret.) to the Sea Cadets http://www.seacadets.org/, the URI Foundation Gift Processing (to benefit URI Nursing Students), PO Box 1700, Kingston, RI 02881, or the NE Navy Nurse Corps Association, c/o Patricia Culver, President, 164 Heritage Drive, Portsmouth, RI 02871.