There was something about Harry Hill. Something wonderful. Harry was a hard working man, a father and grandfather, and a Hall of Fame Mummer. Harry Hill passed away at the end of September. He was just 57. Harry was a dedicated former String Band Captain that everybody in Mummery knew. But, Jim Wolfinger may have said it best when he commented on Facebook that Harry Hill was an “excellent person.”
Harry made you feel at ease. He would do whatever he could to help. That is how he made me feel when I would see him on the street or when I visited years ago in the Greater Overbrook clubhouse. So much work had to be done. Everybody was running around worrried, but Harry had a steady, determined handle on it.
The last time Harry Hill captained Greater Overbrook was in 2004. Greater O’s theme for 2013 seems especially fitting now: “Greater O’s Headin’ for the Hills.” Hill is in the title and Harry liked the country. Born in Norristown, he lived much of his life in the Trappe/Phoenixville area. After leaving Greater Overbrook, Harry joined Woodland String Band. He as much as anyone appreciated the victory Woodland earned on January 1, 2012.
What many people are remembering now are the snapshots of life, the easy-going, happy moments with Harry and there is no shortage of them. A moment like Woodland President Tom Loomis singing “On the Way to Cape May” with Harry Hill down the shore this summer. It is that one to one connection that Harry was able to make as a Captain and as a person. He was great with kids. I remember asking little Foley Anastasi who his favorite String Band Captain was and Foley, who knew every Captain by name, instantly said, Harry Hill. He was about 4 when I asked this. He’s 7 now. Foley’s answer is still the same.
As I was thinking about Harry today, about what I knew, but more importantly, what so many others who knew Harry better were saying, a lyric from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” came into my head. “Be something you love and understand.” Well, that was Mr. Harry E. Hill and it was something wonderful.