Friends recall Waterville’s first female mayor, Ann “Nancy” Hill
WATERVILLE – It’s hard to grasp how much Ann Hill has accomplished and meant for the town of Waterville, having served as her first female mayor, two-term city councilor and a volunteer on many boards and committees during her many years here. .
Beyond that, Hill, who preferred to call herself “Nancy,” was a devoted mother and grandmother, a loyal friend and champion of all things Colby College, loved art and film, and never failed to attend the Maine International Film Festival.
She was also a staunch Democrat and paved the way for women in politics, say those who knew her.
“Nancy Hill was a giant – a trailblazer for women involved in local government,” former city manager Michael Roy said Thursday. “She served on our city council, was the first woman elected mayor, and was also president of the Maine Municipal Association. She has given many women the confidence to get involved.
Hill died on April 13 in Dedham, Massachusetts, of complications from dementia. She was 90 years old. Friends, including Roy, remembered her this week for her hard work, dedication and love for Waterville.
“I served with her on the board of directors of the Federal Savings Bank of Kennebec for over 10 years and have always been impressed by her ability to grasp things quickly and know the important questions to ask” Roy said. “She was a master at building relationships to get results, which is why people trusted her in positions of authority. The city lost one of its most important rulers in the last half of the 20th century. “
Former mayor Karen Heck, who was the city’s fourth female mayor after Hill, Judy Kany and Ruth Joseph, recalled Hill fondly, saying she was sorry to hear of her passing.
“I was new to Waterville when Nancy became mayor and little involved in city politics,” Heck said. “I remember buying my house down the street from hers and proudly telling my parents when we passed by that this was where our first mayor lived.”
Hill made a big difference by stepping into the political arena long before it was common to find women there, according to Heck.
“Plus, Nancy was a staunch supporter of the Waterville Girls Club long before it became the Boys and Girls Club, a cheerleader for Waterville and a passionate Democrat,” she said. “How could I not love him?”
Joan Sanzenbacher of Waterville was a close friend of Hill, who returned to Massachusetts several years ago to be closer to her family.
“Nancy was a great person – she was just a very good friend and a dedicated citizen of Waterville,” Sanzenbacher said Wednesday.
Hill, she said, returned to Waterville every summer after returning to the Boston area. She stayed with Sanzenbacher for two weeks during the Maine International Film Festival, which she loved to attend this summer.
When Hill lived in Waterville, she was attached to the city and all of its activities, according to Sanzenbacher, who is a retiree from Colby College where she worked for over 30 years and was director of special programs, director of the Equal Employment Office Affirmative Action. and director of women’s services.
Sanzenbacher recalled Hill’s love for the Colby College Museum of Art, the Colby Symphony Orchestra and Colby basketball.
“After retiring from politics, she was a member of the KFS board for a very long time and was active in the American Association of Women Academics in the Waterville area,” said Sanzenbacher. “Her third child, Michael, was a student of Colby, and she really followed all of Colby’s activities. We went to all of Colby’s basketball games. She was addicted to basketball. She knew all that was possible about basketball. She was a real crazy Celtics fan. Bill Russell was his favorite basketball player of all time.
The last time Hill visited Sanzenbacher in Waterville was three summers ago, she said.
Joan Phillips-Sandy, president of the Waterville school board, was also friends with Hill.
“I got to know Nancy when she was mayor of Waterville, and later we served together on the board of directors of Kennebec Federal Savings,” said Phillips-Sandy. “Despite her many incredible accomplishments, nothing mattered more to her than her family. Every time I saw her she would catch up with me on the latest news from her children and grandchildren and ask me questions about mine. She was wise and warm, free with good advice on almost everything. I loved it.”
Born in Lowell, Mass., Hill, whose maiden name was Gilbride, graduated from Lowell High School in 1947. In 1952, she graduated from Columbia University School of Nursing at Presbyterian Hospital, according to her obituary. While working as a nurse in New York, she met Kevin Hill, a medical student from Waterville whom she would later marry in 1956. She worked at the Massachusetts General Hospital while he was doing his residency at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Infirmary. They moved to Waterville in the early 1960s. There she was a longtime parishioner of Sacred Heart Parish and served on the ward council.
She became active in politics and in 1964 was chair of the Democratic Town of Waterville committee, a delegate to many Democratic Party state conventions, and chaired the Maine Dairy Commission, according to her obituary. She has been involved with the Waterville Boys Club, the Kennebec Valley Girls Club, Cubs, the National League of Cities and the Kennebec Valley Mental Health Center, among other entities. She attended the Democratic National Convention in 1972 as a delegate of Senator Ed Muskie and, at the convention, was elected to chair the foreign policy subcommittee for which she presented and defended the committee’s work on television. national since the congress.
Hill went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Thomas College and, five years later, ran and won the first of two terms on city council. In 1981, she made history when she was elected the first female mayor of Waterville. She was re-elected in 1983 but her husband died suddenly in January of the following year, and she decided to retire from politics at the end of her second term. She later worked 15 years as an executive at Maine Yankee.
Hill left behind a sister, Sheila Greene of New Smyrna Beach, Florida; her children and their spouses, Luke Hill and Mary Driscoll of Roslindale, Massachusetts; Mary Ann Hill and Patrick Dober of Newton, Massachusetts; Michael Hill and Jill Glickman of Barrington, Rhode Island; Christopher Hill and Karen Seaver Hill from Alexandria, Virginia; and many grandchildren and other parents. She was buried on April 24 in St. Francis Cemetery in Waterville.
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