A trial of his faith came at an early age for Harold G. Hillam. When Harold was eleven, his father was very ill with a cranial tumor. “He was ill and away from home for months,” Elder Hillam says. His mother had to stay with his father in a hospital hundreds of miles away while his two older sisters and he assumed their parents’ duties at their Idaho home. “It was a very trying, uncertain time. It was during this time that I learned we are not alone, that we have to put our faith in the Lord because we can’t control many things.”
Miraculously, his father returned to the family. He later became the city clerk and justice of the peace in St. Anthony, Idaho. It was a miracle Harold did not fail to appreciate.
Harold G. Hillam was born in Sugar City, Idaho, on 1 September 1934 to Gordon and Evelyn Skidmore Hillam. He graduated from high school in St. Anthony and attended Ricks College.
The summer before he received his mission call, Harold worked as a fishing guide in nearby Yellowstone Park, where he met Carol Rasmussen in a sacrament meeting. They corresponded during the two and a half years he served a mission to Brazil. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 5 June 1958.
Both Elder and Sister Hillam attended BYU. Sister Hillam received her degree in education and music, and he was accepted into dental school at Northwestern University in Chicago. While Brother Hillam was in school, Sister Hillam taught elementary school. Upon his graduation, Elder Hillam set up a practice in Idaho Falls, Idaho. After two years, he returned to Northwestern in the orthodontics program. When he received his degree—with honors—the Hillams returned to Idaho Falls.
Elder Hillam served in the bishopric and in the presidency of the Idaho Falls Idaho South Stake before being called as stake president. During the Teton Dam disaster, he coordinated all the Church volunteer efforts during the clean-up and served as Area Welfare leader.
In 1981, Elder Hillam was called to serve as a mission president. Their oldest daughter, Linda, had already received her call to the Portugal Lisbon Mission and was in the Missionary Training Center when her parents received their assignment—to the Portugal mission. Elder Hillam said, “I sent her a telegram and signed it, ‘Your Mission President.’”
Their oldest son, Rodney, left at the same time to serve a mission in Holland, and their third child, Bonnie, later served in the Portugal mission. “During those three years,” says Sister Hillam, “we had five family members serving missions.” The younger children—Glenn, Mark, Ryan, and Jared—attended school in Portugal.
In 1985, the Hillams returned to Idaho Falls and faced the difficulty of starting a practice for the third time.
Elder and Sister Hillam wanted their seven children to learn to work hard and earn money for missions and schooling. So they bought an 80-acre farm in Idaho Falls. Raising and selling sweet corn on their farm has been an ongoing business the children have worked at in high school, passing it down to the younger children as they have left home to serve missions or marry.
The Hillams also enjoy an unusual family hobby: scuba diving.
Elder Hillam has served as a regional representative both in Idaho and in Portugal. He has also served as president of the Teton Peaks Council of the Boy Scouts and has received the Silver Beaver award. He has also served as president of several dental and orthodontic societies.
He strongly encourages young people to serve missions. “There is no other place in the world,” he says, “that they can learn so much.”