Friend to Friend


Elder George R. Hill III

Elder George R. Hill is the third of four George R. Hills. He is proud of his name and his heritage. His father, George R. Hill, Jr., was so much of an influence that Elder Hill became a scientist like his father and went to Cornell University, where his father got his doctorate degree. “I even had some of his old professors there,” he recalls. “Our paths are very parallel. I have a Ph.D. in chemistry with a minor in plant physiology. My father got his doctorate in plant physiology with a minor in chemistry. He became dean of the College of Agriculture at Utah State University, and I became dean of the College of Mines and Mineral Industries at the University of Utah. We both served on the YMMIA general board and were active in Scouting. We each received the Silver Beaver and Silver Antelope awards.

“My father loved the gospel. He had as solid a testimony as anybody I’ve ever known. He understood that when there were apparent differences of opinion between people in science and religion, it was easy to resolve them because the differences occur in areas where scientists have only speculated in an effort to prove their ideas. He also found that many people have their own personal interpretations of what they read in the scriptures and infer more than what is said.

“Dad and Mother (she also taught at Utah State University) encouraged us to find out answers to problems. When discussions on gospel questions would come up, we’d search out the answers. When scientific questions would come up, we’d discuss those in detail. I was always aware of the harmony between science and religion.

“Mother was sweet and loving. I have very precious memories of both Mother and Dad. They did things with us that were fun. Every year during spring vacation we’d go to Zion National Park. In the summer we’d spend a week or ten days in Yellowstone National Park. My father knew a lot about animal behavior, so early in the morning and in the evening we’d go out and take pictures of the animals. We’d see moose, deer, elk, mountain sheep, buffalo, antelope, bears, and coyotes. My brother and sister and I developed a great love for the out-of-doors.

“That love for the out-of-doors included a love for skiing. In those days we didn’t have ski bindings, only a toe strap. We learned to ski in the gully near our home, and sometimes we’d go up to Brighton. But there were no ski lifts then, so we’d have to sidestep up the hill, then ski down.

“We also used to go to Huntsville, Utah, every summer; that’s where my mother grew up. Mother was President David O. McKay’s sister. I can’t remember President McKay when he didn’t have white hair. He was a great man, loving and kind and never saying an unkind word about anyone.

“I was so impressed with Huntsville that when I was nearing eight years of age, I decided that I wanted to be baptized in Spring Creek, which runs just a half block north of the old McKay home. It was late November, and the weather was very cold. There was ice along the edge of the creek when we stepped across it into the old swimming hole where Mother and President McKay had both been baptized.

“My mother was a very spiritual person. She taught us well the importance of living to be worthy to receive the impressions of the Spirit and to follow them.

“When I was older, I had a remarkable spiritual experience. I had taken my family to Burley, Idaho, to see my wife’s family. Coming back, we had a flat tire on a very sharp curve. I stopped the car on the curve because I didn’t want to ruin the tire. As I pulled off the two-lane highway and started to jack the car up, I had the strongest impression to move the car ahead. I ignored the feeling and continued to jack the car up. Luckily the car slipped off the jack. I again had an impression to move the car ahead. I said, ‘OK,’ and I pulled it ahead about twenty yards from where it had been to the straight-away. I had the wheel off and was about ready to put the spare tire on, when I saw two cars speeding west, one car passing the other. Then I saw another car coming from the opposite direction. The three cars passed each other on the curve exactly where our car had been. I don’t know how many of us would have been killed if we had not moved. From then on I’ve tried to follow my impressions the first time—I don’t wait for a second time. When you follow your impressions, you don’t always know what would have happened if you hadn’t done so, but it pays to heed them.

“It’s important for us to learn that serving others is the only way to gain real happiness. My father taught me something that has always impressed me: There’s no limit to the amount of good that you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit. If we can keep this in mind and serve the best that we can, whatever our assignment is, and try to be thoughtful of others, our happiness will multiply. Happiness doesn’t come to us by just seeking it. It comes to us as we serve other people. It’s important to understand that and to do things that are beyond the call of duty, to be helpful to our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and all our friends. By helping them in ways that will bring them happiness, our own happiness will be increased.”