Willard Roy Hill

by Lynn McMillen
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D.04.17.24 Willard Roy Hill.jpg  In Loving Memory of Willard: A Life of Grit and Accomplishments

Willard Roy Hill, 80, of Tuscumbia, AL passed away on April 9, 2024. Visitation will be Thursday, April 18,2024 from 12-2 p.m. at Colbert Memorial Chapel with a service to follow at 2:00 p.m. Brother Michael South will be officiating. Burial in Colbert Memorial Gardens.

Willard was devout to the Church of Christ faith.

Willard was preceded in death by his parents, Dillard and Estelle Hill and his first wife, Karen Ann Hill.

He is survived by his wife, Leslie Hill; his son, Tim Hill (Pamela); his brother, Randall Hill; his sister, Juldeen Hall; two grandchildren, Chris Hill (Stephanie), Brittany Hill; four great-grandchildren, Lyleeona Hill, Jhye Hill, Aubrey Hill, Brooklynn Hill; stepson, Noah Petty (Kortney); and two stepgrandchildren.

Born in Moulton, Willard learned the true worth of hard work from an early age. At just 12 years old, he was already assisting his father on the family farm, participating in construction projects, and fearlessly operating heavy machinery. By the time he reached 16 or 17, he was overseeing the construction crew that built Moulton High School.

In 1961, he married his school sweetheart, a union that would shape the rest of his life. Despite the demands of making a living, formal education took a backseat, and Willard left school after the 9th grade. But he possessed an innate talent—an uncanny knack for fixing things and an intuitive understanding of equipment repair. Armed with determination and a strong back, he embarked on his journey.

Florence became his canvas in the late 1970s. Leasing 1,200 feet of riverfront and eight acres, Willard embarked on various entrepreneurial ventures. Among them was Savannah Salvage, a precursor to Hill Marina in Florence, Alabama. His barge even played a vital role in the Spirit of Freedom fireworks celebration for a decade. In 1994, he acquired the Mallard Fox Industrial Park Port, a pivotal moment that set the stage for the steel coil business in Decatur. The transformation of Mallard Fox into what it is today was nothing short of remarkable, and the business became known as Hills Marine Enterprise.

But Willard’s entrepreneurial spirit didn’t stop there. He dabbled in real estate, owning USA Reality, and his final venture was Mallard Steel and Salvage in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

One of his most daring feats involved salvaging a capsized barge affectionately known as Luci. This sunken behemoth rested on the bottom of the Tennessee River along the Wheeler Dam and weighing a staggering 400 tons. Facing frigid temperatures and a barge with ice damage, Willard tackled the challenge head-on. As he often quipped, “Flipping it over isn’t as easy as flipping a pancake.”

Willard’s eyes would light up when he recounted his life’s accomplishments. He had built, salvaged, and transformed a legacy etched in steel and sweat. His unwavering dedication to hard work and his ability to turn challenges into triumphs defined him.

It is with a heavy heart that we say farewell, Willard. Your legacy lives on, and the echoes of your industrious spirit continue to inspire us all. We love you.

Pallbearers will be Myles Parker, Zach Parker, Chris Hill, Greg Hodges, Anthony McGee, and Heath Bishop.

Colbert Memorial Chapel is assisting the family.

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