Chief Joe Scott Hill USN was born 15 Sept 1937 in Detroit where his father was working. Joe’s father died in 1940 and his mother resigned her job as a hospital dietician and moved back to the family farm near Cookeville, TN. Joe attended military school in Lebanon, TN and then Columbia Military Academy graduating in 1954 at 17. Joe had enough experience with farming to know there were better ways to earn a living. When he turned 18 he went to the Marine Recruiter intending to join the Marines. Learning that he would have to wait a month he switched to the Navy. After boot camp at San Diego he reported to the ROCHESTER as a Fireman Apprentice. He was assigned to M Division and #2 Engine Room. Within a few months he passed the exam and became a FN.
While standing watch in the Engine Room the Chief Engineer came down and asked him how things were going. Joe joked, “Fine, but its hot down here. How do I get up to a cool office like yours?” The Chief Engineer asked if Joe could type. Joe replied, “Yes, and I can take dictation too.” Joe then was assigned to the Log Room. A few weeks later he passed the Seaman exam and was sent to Yoeman Class A school in San Diego. He returned to the ROCHESTER and set a new standard of efficiency in the Log Room.
In May 1957 he was transferred to CINCPACFLT in Hawaii. While there Joe was promoted to YN3 and then YN2. In 1960 he was transferred to the Supply Center at Bayonne, NJ. He was the sole administrative YN administering the personnel needs of some 60 officers and 80 enlisted. During this period he married Julia Baness, his wife of 60 years. They had one son Joe Jr and two daughters, Rowena and Sheena. His next assignment was US HQ Taipei, Taiwan in 1964. He was there until 1967 when at ADM Zumwalt’s request was assigned to OPNAV, the Pentagon. (he had gained the reputation of being an excellent administrator as well as speaking “Truth to Power”.) In 1971 he was sent back to Hawaii and attached to GRANVILLE S. HALL YAG40. It was , essentially a floating barracks, housing Cleaning Unit 1. It was a return to a vessel of sorts, that did not count as sea duty. After observing the ship’s use, he suggested that rather than move the “ship” to a cleaning site, that the Crew be flown there in a C130. The idea was adopted saving considerable time and money. He was then transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency where he handled administrative matters for assigned Navy personnel. He retired Aug 1977 as a Chief.
He returned with his family to the old home-stead at Cookeville. From 1977 to 1985 he worked at a local factory. He and his son, Joe Hill Jr., then started Hills’ Termite and Pest Control which grew into a very successful business. He was with the company until 2018 when he retired, but returned until 2020. He was also associated with the START CPR program, serving as its secretary for 21 years. He found time to serve as the ROCHESTER Association’s Secretary Treasurer where he was key to making the Association an important aspect of so many shipmates as well as their families’ lives.
Joe passed away on 10 Oct 2021. He was such a large presence in the lives of so many of us that it is difficult to imagine him gone. Of course he really isn’t gone, but still lives in the memories of all those who have known him. He was a person who always excelled at whatever he was doing, with an innate knack for doing it better. Joe had a strong appreciation of what was happening in the world around him and was always a person you could enjoy in conversation. He credited his Mother for setting sound standards of behavior and being sensitive to the attributes contributing to a successful life. As one shipmate said,“ Joe was a gentleman, always engaging, and a friend to all. He had a gentle, but on-point sense of humor. And if it were not for his involvement with the Association, I would not have had the pleasure to know him.”