Louise ‘Eleanor’ Hill, who taught math in Brooklyn Park, dies at 84

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Growing up in the segregated South, Louise “Eleanor” Hill attended elementary and high school on the campus of West Virginia State College, a historically black institution where her father, a chemist, was the president and was subsequently in charge of the desegregate.

The experience meant that she did not need to be transported by bus to the nearest “black school” 45 minutes away, but that she lived and learned in a thriving academic environment where only the excellence would do.

“She was wonderful,” said lifelong friend Langley Spurlock. When he landed in Eleanor’s undergraduate classes at college (now called West Virginia State University), he expected to be pounced on by all the teens.

But she supported him. She was only 14 years old, but calm and collected. “His personality was just to just tell the [older] girls and especially the boys in that group who, ‘He’s now one of us,’ “he said. ‘crowd.”

Hill died on December 10 of kidney failure at the age of 84 in Brooklyn Park.

She attended Fisk University in Tennessee for a year and graduated in chemistry from West Virginia State College in 1959. She was a life member of the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta. She went on to earn a master’s degree in teaching from Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1962, she married her college sweetheart, Airman Joe A. Hill.

The new graduates have moved into jobs in West Virginia – her as a math professor in Dunbar and he as a cost analyst in Charleston. They had a son, William, then a daughter, Toni.

The couple traveled to Minnesota for Joe Hill’s job at Fridley in 1970, taking advice from his father’s friend at the time, the Governor. Harold LeVander to bring “appropriate clothing – parkas, sheepskin-lined boots, thermal jackets” for the cold winters.

When they moved to Brooklyn Center, the Hills were the only minorities in the neighborhood and took to skiing, bowling, and all of Minnesota.

“If you said ‘let’s go’ she would say ‘go!'” Her daughter Toni Hill Duberry recalls. “She was very easy going and loved to ‘go there.’ It didn’t matter where it was for a dinner party, a movie, a casino or a reception.”

Hill quickly befriended neighbors, other relatives, and members of the Brooklyn United Methodist Church.

When she began teaching math at North View Junior High School in Brooklyn Park in 1973, she was the only black teacher in the school. A guard and a secretary complemented the other black employees. The trio met monthly in neighboring Chile’s and created a directory of other black employees in Osseo School District 279.

The small list has grown over the years. By the time she retired in 2000, more than half of North View’s student body were people of color. She returned in 2003 as a paraprofessional, co-teaching mathematics to specialized students and mentoring young teachers until 2018, when she left to take care of her ailing husband.

Hill always dressed so professionally that young teachers nicknamed her “Mrs. Fly”. In turn, she provided educational advice and praised them for never using learning as a form of punishment.

“I’m a great math teacher today because she watched me and gave me advice. She cared,” said Ternesha Burroughs, a sister in the sorority. “She really cared.”

Along with her husband and children, Hill is survived by three grandchildren. A Celebration of Life will be held Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Brooklyn.


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