April 14, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 15
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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018



A PFLAG tribute to Bob Hill
A PFLAG tribute to Bob Hill
by Terry Rhines - Special to the SGN

On Sunday, April 2, the Washington State PFLAG family lost one of its own with the death of Bob Hill. Most of you reading this will not have known Bob. He and his wife, Jeaneane, were past co-presidents of the Bellevue chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for four years (1998 to 2002). Bob was also the first president of the Washington State PFLAG Council, working to connect PFLAG chapters across the state.

What you also probably don't know is the ripple effect both Bob and Jeaneane have had on the lives of so many GLBT individuals and their families across Washington and the entire US. When one of their sons came out to them, Bob and Jeaneane needed only a few days to digest the information before launching into their fight against homophobia wherever they found it - in their church, at work, or, in Jeaneane's case, in lines at the supermarket, convenience stores or any line she happened to be in, as she proudly let people know that she had a Gay son. You could not be in their presence for very long before seeing the energy emanating from Jeaneane and sensing the strength in Bob. As Jeaneane, dressed in her brightly colored, butterfly top said at his memorial service on Sunday, April 9, "Bob gave this to me for my birthday last year because he knew I was the butterfly - but he was my solid ground."

In his first Gay pride parade, Bob marched with the PFLAG group, carrying the letter "F". He marched because, at that time, it was rare for a father to even attend a PFLAG meeting, let along march in a parade. And he began to see the results of his commitment to this work almost immediately when another Boeing employee, who recognized him, came up to him after the parade and said "I will never be ashamed of being Lesbian again, and now I want to put a rainbow flag on my desk." And Bob didn't stop at that one parade. As Jeaneane became more involved with her activism, Bob was right there by her side, saying just what needed to be said. When they shifted their focus from PFLAG to Soulforce after stepping down as co-presidents in Bellevue, Bob was ever the supporting husband as Jeaneane went to jail time and again as a Soulforce activist, standing up against faith-based homophobia across the country.

When they moved to the Kitsap peninsula and settled down enough to again start attending PFLAG meetings, Bob stepped right up to a leadership role as the chapter treasurer. When the Kitsap Safe Schools Network was formed in 2004, Bob was right there helping to get things organized. He was one of three people from Kitsap to take the GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) "Lunchbox Train the Trainer" program so that he could be effective in making sure schools are safe for Gay students.

Marcie Mathis, current PFLAG Northwest Regional Director, said of Bob, "He had a generous heart in other ways. Jeaneane and Bob both graciously offered up their wonderful house for meetings, and offered that even if they were not going to be there. He will be greatly missed here [Kitsap PFLAG community], that is for sure, both as a friend and as a community member who had so much to give."

At Bob's memorial service on Sunday, Reverend Catherine Cummings, minister with United Church of Christ and Spirit of the Sound, listed 15 things we learned from Bob Hill. Here is a summary of the ones we can take to heart:

o Do it. Get out of your own way. Don't count the cost or get all timid.

o Parent well. Your own children and grand children and everybody else's.

o Don't be afraid to be human.

o Fix things for others.

o Drive four hours to see your grand daughter or anyone you love dance in a recital for 5 minutes.

o Love your partner! Even if she is outrageous, full of life, so different from you.

o Find the crazy church led by the defrocked Lesbian pastor. Let them lay hands on you as your wife goes to jail for justice sake!

o Quit a church you have loved for so long because they are not following God as you see it. Then find another church were you are healed.

o Look for rainbows and the hope they bring.

o Don't say more than you need to. 250 words per day are enough.

o Choose to live life abundantly!

On the front of Bob's memorial service program were these words by Maya Angelou: "Rainbows are people whose lives are bright, shining examples for others." Bob was a PFLAG rainbow that stretched from Bellevue across the Sound to the Kitsap Pennisula. But the impact of his life was even more far reaching.

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