Christopher Rosacker

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January 18, 2013
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Former Grass Valley mayor Dennis Hill left his mark on Nevada County

Former Grass Valley Mayor Dennis Hill, whose fingerprints can be found throughout some of Grass Valley’s most prominent features, passed away Jan. 12.

“It’s certainly a larger city with more boundaries and more responsibilities in part thanks to him,” said Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield, who served on the City Council with Hill.

“I knew him very well for 30 years,” Scofield said. “He was a mentor to me.”

Hill was born in Lodi and raised in Courtland, a small Sacramento River town south of Sacramento.

After graduating from Courtland High School and attending Sacramento City College, Hill joined the Army at the start of the Korean War.

In his two decades of service that saw his ascension from second lieutenant to colonel, Hill earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star during combat in Korea.

“He was such a nice man. Everyone will tell you he was a gentle man and gentleman,” said Bernice Hill, 83, Hill’s widow. “He seldom had a bad word about anybody.”

In 1969, the Hills moved to Grass Valley and, shortly after their arrival, purchased Grass Valley Glass at 208 Colfax Ave. In 1977, Hill was elected to the Grass Valley City Council, where he served as mayor from 1981 to 1985.

Among his accomplishments during his representation, Hill helped foster the development of Whispering Pines Business Park and the Morgan Ranch residential community, Scofield said.

“I think of Whispering Pines as one of the great successes of the city,” Scofield said.

Hill also helped attract two of Grass Valley’s largest outside commercial institutions: Raley’s and Kmart, Scofield said.

“He was a more aggressive person politically, but he always kept the future of Grass Valley in mind,” Scofield said.

Hill also secured a grant to remodel city hall, said his widow.

After serving on the council with Hill, Scofield moved to San Jose. But it was Hill who was instrumental in pushing Scofield to apply to run the Nevada County Fairgrounds in 1982.

He got the job and returned to Nevada County where he oversaw the fairgrounds until his retirement in 2008. Scofield now serves as a Nevada County supervisor.

“He was very instrumental in me becoming the manager of Nevada County Fairgrounds,” Scofield said.

While Hill received numerous accolades, recognitions and awards, including a letter from Ronald Reagan, he remained humble, his wife said.

“He was such a low-key man,” said Bernice Hill. “If he was honored for something and given a plaque, he would never put it up on the wall.”

In addition to his wife, Hill is survived by two sons and a daughter, three grandsons, three granddaughters and two great-grandsons, as well as two sisters.

He also had many nieces and nephews.

In accordance with his wishes, no services will take place, and his remains will rest at the National Cemetery in Dixon, buried in a private ceremony.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call 530-477-4236.

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The Union Updated Jul 19, 2013 02:34PM Published Jan 21, 2013 12:42PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.