A Passing: Al Hill Jr.

The tapestry of Al Hill Jr.’s life was one of many threads, colors and textures.  

Al Hill Jr. (File photo)

For many young people, Al was the behind-the-scenes patriarch of Highland Park Village and a very generous and supportive philanthropist. As one person told a new nonprofit development director on how to raise funds, “Go visit Al. He’ll take the meeting and listen. If he likes what he hears, he’ll answer your prayers.”

He was easy to spot at any event. It was his wheelchair that had become a double-edged sword since his fall in 2003 that resulted in his being paralyzed from the waist down. But even that couldn’t dampen his spirits. There was always the smile, especially when he was at events with his daughters Elisa Summers and Heather Washburne.

Old-timers remember Al of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when he was just in his 20s. He and his uncle Lamar Hunt spearheaded the growth of tennis, thanks to the World Championship of Tennis. It made sense, since Al had been an ace tennis player at St. Mark’s School of Texas and Trinity University. Tennis was on the launch pad to become a major sports contender like football and baseball. And the timing couldn’t have been better for Al, Lamar and Dallas.

Those were heady days, with Dallas’ new airport making it an international player in the world of travel and such membership nightclubs as Oz on LBJ and elan at Greenville and Lovers Lane for partying it up. To do it up big, Al and Lamar brought in such names as Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Bjorg, who could barely speak English.

But the venture into building the world of tennis wasn’t Al’s only undertaking. Being the grandson of the late H.L. and Lyda Hunt and son of the late Margaret and Al Hill Sr., he was involved in the oil business. Being the nephew of the late race-horse-loving Bunker Hunt, he developed a hands-on interest in horse racing. Being the nephew of Pumpkin Air owner Caroline Rose Hunt, he took on the charter-jet business as well.

And on the home front, he and his beautiful blonde wife, Vicki, were new parents of son Al Hill III and daughters Heather and Elisa.

But it hadn’t all been wonderful for Al. There was the divorce from Vicki, the life-changing fall from his porch in 2003, and legal issues following the death of his mother in 2007. Yet, those developments didn’t slow him down. He ended up adjusting his interests to focus on the building and restoring of Park Cities homes, as well as being a part of the purchase and redevelopment of Highland Park Village starting in 2009.

But it was in philanthropy where he shone, by putting even more of his family’s money and influence into the world of such nonprofits as Baylor Health Care System Foundation, Equest, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of North Texas, Center for BrainHealth, Salvation Army of DFW Metroplex Command, Big Thought, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, The Family Place, Communities in Schools of Dallas, Callier Center for Communication Disorders, The Senior Source, Dallas Historical Society, and many others.

Saturday night, Al’s confinement to the wheelchair ended with his death at the age of 72. One can’t but suspect that he was the first one on the tennis courts the next morning in his after-life.

Our condolences to his family, friends and the countless others who have benefited from his generosity and friendship.

JUST IN: Equest To Sell Wylie Property, Add Al Hill Jr. Family Arena At Texas Horse Park Facility With Completion Slated For Fall 2017

Equest just revealed a big reduction and expansion of its physical operation. The reduction is the putting up for sale its Wylie property. Despite the “For Sale” sign, it will continue operating from Friday, January 27, thru Saturday, May 13. Handling the sale will be Dave Perry-Miller and Associates’ Andy Steingasser, who is also Equest’s chairman of the board. Just to keep this above board, Andy is donating 100% of his commission to Equest.

Heather Washburne, Al Hill Jr. and Elisa Summers (File photo)

On the other hand, Equest’s expansion will be the addition of a new state-of-the-art arena at its Texas Horse Park facility. Named Al Hill Jr. Family Arena, the new arena will allow the organization to be “a closer step to Equest’s vision to be a model of excellence for worldwide therapeutic riding center. The beautiful energy-efficient clearspan steel covered arena will feature wooden kick boards, a blended equestrian-specific footage, large industrial fans, high-tech audio capabilities, and a platform for announcers and judges. It will increase opportunities for Equest to serve more clients and amplify outreach programming with the Dallas Independent School District, as well as additional audiences and organizations.”

According to Andy, “Al Hill Jr. is a Dallas businessman whom [sic] has had an interest in horses all of his life. Having an involvement using equestrian programs which benefits military veterans and especially handicapped children is a perfect combination of his personal interest. Having a distinguished arena that has multi-use functionality and accessibility will not only impact Equest but also the City of Dallas. We look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks.”

Plans presently call for a March groundbreaking with completion slated for this fall.

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon

According to Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show And Luncheon Chair Kara Axley and Auxiliary President Di Johnston,

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

Kara Axley and Di Johnston (File photo)

“Equest has enhanced the lives of children and adults using horses to bring hope and healing through equine assisted therapies for thirty five years. The annual Equest Women’s Auxiliary Fashion Show and Luncheon, Riding High, will be Tuesday, October 4, at Brook Hollow Golf Club and will continue the 35th anniversary celebration by raising much-needed funds for Equest’s unique therapy programs.

“Today, Equest is the leader in equine assisted therapy and serves hundreds of riders annually. These riders include those with cerebral palsy and autism as well as orthopedic ailments. Additionally, Equest serves our country’s brave veterans through our ‘Horses for Heroes’ program.

“When Equest Women’s Auxiliary founder Louise Griffeth started the organization thirty years ago, Equest was known as Freedom Ride and many people were unfamiliar with the cause and how to become supporters. A lot has changed in the past three decades as Equest has received national recognition for its work and the Women’s Auxiliary is a thriving organization comprised of hundreds of dedicated women who work tirelessly to provide invaluable funding.

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

Lindalyn Adams and Louise Griffeth (File photo)

“Riding High will be a fun-filled day of fashion, great food and a glimpse into the workings of Equest programming. Fashion icon Jan Strimple will produce the fashion show with some of Highland Park Village’s most noted international retailers showing their collections.  Highland Park Village is the presenting sponsor of the luncheon and we are most grateful to the Al Hill Jr. family for their generosity.

“In addition to the fashion show, we will honor beloved community leader Lindalyn Adams with the 2016 Equest Community Service Award for many contributions and advocacy for Equest over three decades. We are also pleased to have longtime Equest supporters Lezlie and Bill Noble serve as Honorary Luncheon Chairs.

“We hope you will join us for this worthy and life changing cause. Please visit www.equest.org for more information.”