Thomas F. Hill

Thomas F. Hill

August 18, 1928 ‐ December 30, 2021
Thomas  F.  Hill
Birthplace: Bay Village, OH Resided In: Avon Lake, OH

Thomas F. Hill, age 93, passed away peacefully on December 30 2021. Beloved husband of the late Virginia Mersbach Hill. Dear father of Susan Newby (Ed) and William Hill (Keiko). Loving grandfather of Kristen, Mark, and Wade, and great-grandfather of Gia, William, Annika, Quinn, and Isla. Brother of James Hill and the late Laura, Robert, and George. He was a graduate of Bay High School and Ohio University. Tom was proud of his Army service, a lifelong Cleveland Sports fan, and retired band and choir director with Westlake High School. After his retirement from Westlake, Tom continued to teach music for many years at Messiah Lutheran and Saint Paul's Lutheran.  He certainly touched many lives through his love of music. Private family services. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Westlake Music Boosters, 24365 Hilliard Blvd Westlake, OH 44145

Guest Comments

Ross Acton BHS “76”
Philomath, Oregon

Did not know Mr. Hill from school but played with his son Billy for many years as a young boy. Their house on Wolf Rd. In Bay Village had a large backyard where we played touch football. Mr. Hill would coach us and when we were done Mrs. Hill would feed us. Both were so nice and so gracious. Last spoke with them at my father’s funeral in May 2000 after many years and it was great seeing them both. My condolences to Billy and Susan and families. Nothing but fond memories from so long ago. RIP Tom & Ginny

John bartos
Cleveland Ohio

John was a great servant he would always point me to Jesus

Bob Saville '64
Salem, VA

Mr. Hill certainly instilled a love of music in me. It started with the clarinet in 5th grade, and moved to alto clarinet in high school, and lugging the bass drum around during football season. After high school, I learned to play alto sax, trumpet, handbells and recorder, and sang in mixed performances and the local barbershop harmony society. My oldest son sings, and his four kids play piano, clarinet, trombone, trumpet and ukelele. My daughter played piano and clarinet, and her three kids play baritone and trumpet. My youngest son tried both trumpet and drums. Mr. Hill's pebble has created musical ripples in the pond of my family that will go on for generations, and I'm sure that this story could be repeated by hundreds of his other students over the years. I can't think of a better legacy to leave behind than that. Thank you, sir!

Glenn Mau

The good memories of band and playing an instrument are all related to good times from Mr. Hill. He's the reason I switched from trumpet to tuba. Then he taught me that instrument. Marching band was work, but fun. He was a good man that made learning fun. RIP Mr. Hill. I hope there's a band in heaven that will benefit from your presence.

Georgene Tozzi
Wilson, Wyoming

I played clarinet for 4 years under Mr Hill. It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed it tremendously and also learned a lot. He always expected the very best from all of us which was truly a great lesson going forward into our adult lives. He was one of my favorite teachers while at Westlake High. I'm so saddened by his loss and send my prayers to all of his family.
Georgene Tozzi

Joseph Kraft

Mr. Hill, Thank you. Thank you for making the World a better place. The many, many lives you touched can never forget you. Your song continues with them, their children and their communities forever.

Beth Vancik
Westlake, Ohio

As I read all the accolades for Mr. Tom Hill, I realize sadly I have not much to add. I always wanted to play an instrument but could never get past the initial steps that would allow me to try. I can’t sing a note. But oh do I love music, probably as much as all of you who had the honor to learn from Mr. Hill. I realize now how much I missed out not knowing him in high school. But what I do know is this man never forgot his Westlake High School students. He saluted the ‘65 grads at our 50th reunion - he was with many of us at our casual class get togethers…what teacher does that? Mr. Thomas Hill. He remained ever present in our lives whether we played an instrument or sang in a chorus - Rest In Peace. Westlake High School salutes you.

Alan Wolff
Sheffield Village

Remembering the first time I met Mr Hill. He was new to the Westlake School System, 1954/55. The elementary school band I was in was set up in the Lunch Room. Mr Hill would run over from the then H.S. and come in the back door to start teaching. One day he was a few minutes late allowing the 4th graders to become really rowdy!! All of a sudden my friend said “ Here comes the old man” !
Mr Hill heard him. He then blasted in, red in the face both from running in and hearing the insult. At that point you could hear a pin drop!! He made it quite clear HE WAS NOT AN OLD MAN!!! Then it was all good and lots of laughs! I can’t even imagine a better band director and friend to all us students!
When I was about 15 he heard me talking about playing sax in bars with an older band called The Flares. He asked me if my mother knew I was playing in bars.! He then offered to put together an After school Dance Band if I would quit playing in bars!! He then put together a 13 piece band, called The Bakers Dozen, after school!! All on his own time. Some of us didn’t drive or have cars so he took us home in his FAST HEMI CHRYSLER ( that man loved a fast car).
I was so glad to see him a couple of times when my daughters were in Westlake Schools and at our 50th reunion. At that reunion I admitted I never quit playing in bars, but he said he was glad I played in an ARMY BAND for 6 years! At that time he gave all the former band members a CD of our high school band.
I will never forget this man who truly cared about us kids and our music. I started playing sax again 6 months ago after quitting for 43 years. I will keep Mr Hill and his terrific enthusiasm in my memories forever.

Linn Obery WHS '69
Euclid, Ohio

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. And give you peace. And give you peace. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. And be gracious; the Lord be gracious, gracious unto you. Amen.

If there are services, I'd love to sing this one more time with him.

Bill Griffith WHS'64/'65

Great memories in High School and a bonus time in 2014, where he joined us for our 50th reunion and continued to join us with the WHS'64-'68 3rd Tuesday of the month dinners. At those get together, Tom was more like a classmate friend rather than a teacher and his past memories of names and experiences were unbelievable.
We lost a GREAT guy. RIP Tom.

Linda Martinsen
Houston, Texas

We will all miss Uncle Tom. He always enjoyed all the nieces and nephews and we had lots of fun together in Saugatuck and when visiting in Bay Village. I especially will remember him for playing taps at my father's (his brother-in-law Robert Mersbach) funeral in Saugatuck. It was very special. I think of him often.

Judy Waldrop Nunn
Harrisburg, PA

Thank you Mr. Hill for encouraging, instructing, and understanding me with my attempts with clarinet, orchestra and marching band. Remembering the fun times still brings smiles.
Condolences to your families and friends.

Judy Mann Parker
Anaheim California

I will always cherish my memories in the band and as a Majorette with Mr. Hill as our leader! Although he was strict, his love for us all always shined through!

Carole Sessa Bergin
Arlington, Va

Mr. Hill was my band instructor for three years at Westlake High School. He was passionate and intense about music, band, orchestra and his students. Each student in the band was played an important role as far as Mr. Hill was concerned. I learned what being a part of a team was from my experience as a student in his band and orchestra. I want to share one memory that is funny now but certainly not at the time, We were playing an Oberlin game. Don’t ask me how … I forgot to load my drum on the bus before we left for the game. Kind of a big instrument to forget. I am sure his blood pressure rose with the news and Lord knows how that man held his tongue that night. Mr. Hill, may you Rest In Peace … you deserve a place in heaven. Carole Sessa Bergin

Carole Sessa Bergin
Arlington, Va

Mr. Hill was my band instructor for three years at Westlake High School. He was passionate and intense about music, band, orchestra and his students. Each student in the band was played an important role as far as Mr. Hill was concerned. I learned what being a part of a team was from my experience as a student in his band and orchestra. I want to share one memory that is funny now but certainly not at the time, We were playing an Oberlin game. Don’t ask me how … I forgot to load my drum on the bus before we left for the game. Kind of a big instrument to forget. I am sure his blood pressure rose with the news and Lord knows how that man held his tongue that night. Mr. Hill, may you Rest In Peace … you deserve a place in heaven. Carole Sessa Bergin

Dick Lavanture
Traverse City, Michigan

Tom is a great man who will be really missed. I always thought so much of him for putting up with me, with a smile, during the 60s.
So sorry

Cyndi Lehman WHS Class of 85
Westlake, OH

Mr. Hill was an amazing mentor to me as a young pianist. It’s a challenge for teenagers to get out of bed for 7am commitments at school but Mr Hill had a way of making it worth the effort. I will always remember his unique style, use of metaphors and the sparkle in his eyes when things suddenly came together magically in the choir room and on stage. He brightened bad days for many and was a gem of a teacher. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Lorene Mihalko
North Royalton, Ohio

I first met Tom when I was hired by the Westlake Schools in 1984 which was shortly before he retired from the district. As a school psychologist, I also had the pleasure of working with his wife, Ginny, during the early part of my career. I was pleasantly surprised to encounter Tom again shortly after he retired when he was hired as the band director at Messiah Lutheran School where I also worked. It was at Messiah where I had the opportunity to work with him for many years during our long tenure at this small parochial school. It was also where I came to know him as the dedicated teacher, husband, father, grandfather, and patriotic citizen he was. Tom endeared himself within this close-knit church/school community with his dedication, loyalty and friendliness which made him a valued member of Messiah's staff. He will always be remembered for his unfaltering love of music in both the playing of it and the teaching of it.

Joy Crews Lubeck , ‘72 WHS
Glendale, Arizona

It is with sadness and gratitude both that we celebrate a life well lived. I am so grateful to Mr. Hill- as an accompanist and singer in the WHS choir. A life filled with music and inspiring so many.
I’m sure Tom is in heaven directing the angel choirs alongside my father Curt Crews. They were wonderful collaborators!

Patty Shie Stuber
North Olmsted Ohio

Tom Hill was a great inspiration to me and my family. He taught us a love of music that has lasted a lifetime. So many memories of marching band, and choir concerts at WHS. Thank you so much!

Ruth (Will) Klingenberger
Fort Myers, FL

To Mr. Hill's family, so sorry for your loss. I was privileged to have Mr. Hill as my marching, concert band, and choir director at Westlake High. While it has been many years since those days, I still remember his encouragement and dedication to teaching us music appreciation and technique. I no longer play the clarinet, but still love to sing.
Just wanted you to know.

Claudia Ware Lee
Jonesborough, TN

I loved being in band with this awesome man. His high standards and humor made being part of his band the highlight of my school experience from Hilliard to Westlake High, class of 1967. Thanks, Mr. Hill.

Sherry Thompson-Buccieri Class of 1970

Mr. Hill. I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you did to bring music into my life. From third grade on, we students were blessed to have you as our instructor. You demanded perfection and you received it. We all loved going to choir and band practice because we learned and we had fun. Thank you for helping to mold the educator who I became. Gather all of the musical angels and perform with the beauty and gusto that you did here on Earth. We are all better people for having known you. Rest in Peace always.

Sue Hershberger Guttag class of 74
West chester ohio

Mr. Hill taught and forged excellence in all of us. Music ala mode brings many memories and I suspect I can still sing the alto part to the “The Lord Bless You” benediction that closed every concert. TF blessed us all.

Laurie Mountford Russell
Medina, Ohio

Dear Mr. Hill,
The class of 69 was so lucky to have you as our Band teacher when you were first starting out at Westlake. You created our 5th grade band and continued to direct us until we graduated. Some of my fondest memories were from my times in Band and Choir. Thank you for being so patient, kind, and loving to all of us crazy kids. And thank you for giving us such a love of music which has been with us our whole lives. You were one of a kind, Mr. Hill and we were blessed to have you in our lives. Rest In Peace while the Angels sing.

Beth Kean

Mr. Hill Was The Music Man-from Music ala-mode to high school days are forever dear. His energy at the podium-Cleaning out his ears until the steam actually came out of them-until we got each passage right. At the same time encouraging us and laughing with us so that we knew we could perform, and perform well.
Mr. Hill was intense and dedicated to the production of good music and to his students. He had high expectations, and we had to follow him. His high tenor voice rang out over the congregation from the choir loft at Westlake Christian. He was devoted to my Dad, Albert Kean, and my entire family.
Mr. Hill was a man who believed his Christianity called him to be a good, charitable neighbor. He believed it was his job to be an upright citizen.
We could not address him as "Tom, " his first name. He commanded too much respect. He just is "Mr. Hill."

Nancy Blase Collier-Class of 1971
Riverbank, CA

Mr. Hill had such an influence on my life. His enthusiasm and dedication to his students was an inspiration. I also was fortunate to have him in my church life at Westlake Christian Church as well as at WHS. Loved you, Mr. Hill! And thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

Jennifer Hill Dieffenbacher
Westlake, OH

My sincere condolences go out to my cousins Susie and Bill and their families. It's been a long time since The Hill Family has seen each other, but I still have fond (& funny) memories of gathering during childhood for holidays with our beloved matriarch, Grandma Hill. Losing a parent is very difficult; we must try to make peace with the fact they lived a long life and were deeply loved :) I pray the good memories soon brighten your sadness. I always enjoyed being in WHS Choir and learned a lot from Uncle Tom, musically. Rest in peace.

Jennifer (the late Joe) and Aaron Dieffenbacher

Carol Hill
Heath, Ohio

Very much loved former brother-in-law. Helped us buy our house. Always a great guy.

Steve Hill
Arlington Heights IL

You Always had a smile for me. I’m sure Ginny is there waiting with open arms. Peace—Steverino

Carrieann Hill
Arlington heights il

Remembering Uncle Tom with much love. Thinking of you all.

Leslie Federkiel Stickels
Wheaton, Illinois

I cannot express enough thank yous to this wonderful man. My years in chorus and band with Mr. Hill were the best in my earlier educational years. He taught me how to push myself harder and to believe that I could do more than I ever thought. He so influenced my teaching and administrative career just by his example. I think of him every Sunday during the blessing at church - "The Lord bless you and keep you." Rest in God's embrace, wonderful friend.

Lynn (Buttriss) Bruss
Westlake, Ohio

Gave our high school chorus is all!

Linda (Musgrave) Floyd
Camp Hill, PA

Mr. Hill was always such a pleasure to be with at Westlake Christian Church while I was growing up. He spread joy and positivity everywhere, and especially encouraged the youth. I enjoyed having Sue as a good friend and always enjoyed seeing Tom when coming back to the area to visit my parents, Nancy & Jim Musgrave.

My prayers are with Sue and all the family. I have no doubt Tom is singing his heart out in heavan.

Paul Holland

We were blessed to have this talented educator, friend, and mentor in our school journey. May God embrace you in His loving arms.

Tom Doyle
North Ridgeville, Ohio

I have nothing but fond memories of Mr. Hill at Westlake High School. He was so enthusiastic about passing on his knowledge of, and passion for music. He taught me so much., and I will always be grateful.

Mary Beth Price Schneidler
Westlake, Ohio

I am deeply saddened but filled with enormous respect and love for Mr.Tom Hill, Westlake’s music man. He played an enormous role in my love of music and teaching! He filled my life with music. His unique way of telling us we played a note out of key (sharp he pulled the knife out of his back and if flat he used a Jack to raise it up) will always be part of us. He remained a good friend of mine for nearly 60 years..he always pushed me to do my best and he became a part of my family. He always shared his love with everyone he knew. He encouraged me in everything we shared…music, family, faith , sports..especially golf, patriotism and politics. Our conversations were wonderful over the years. His singing of “The Hawaiian Wedding Song” at our wedding was just terrific..we were so honored.
May the Lord Bless You and Keep you Tom. We will never forget you. I would imagine you are already leading the singing of the angels in Heaven! “Alma Mater at the bridge!”

Kevan Stuber
North Olmsted

Mr. Hill was like a second father to me. He taught the values of hard work, dedication, patriotism, high standards, leadership, and the love of musical excellence. I followed in his footsteps as a band director and was honored to share many successes along the way. As a man of strong faith, I am sure Heaven has another angel. (WHS class of 1971)

Mike Radice
Los Angeles, CA

I can't thank Mr. Hill enough for what he did for the Westlake Public Schools music program--something he practically invented--and for me. He took a 4th grade student who could barely squeak out a note and made him into a musican on a collegescholarship and then to New York to sing on stage, tv, and elsewhere.

Molly Chamberlain Trask
Virginia Beach VA

Tom came to WHS as a new teacher in my early high school days. He quickly became a teacher who brought out the best in his students and, throughout the years has gone WAY beyond the extra mile with many. He was good at staying in touch with people , and it was great to be able to see him when I’d be home on visits at church where my parents met up again with him on a regular basis until they died. He was a dedicated giver of himself to many and will be remembered gratefully and lovingly for a long, long time. He’s probably already heading up choirs and bands on the Other Side, dedicated as ever!

Brenda Rausch
Westlake, Ohio

Mr. Hill will be greatly missed, I learned so much from him not only music but advice and conversations about life lessons, My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, Mr Hill you will always have a place in my heart.

Judith Kean

Oh my - Mr. Hill you will be greatly missed by so many people. You touched so many lives with your love of music, vocally and instrumentally! I was fortunate enough to know you both in band and choir. My family will miss you so much. Mom and Beth and I have wonderful memories of you with us on Christmas Eve after the church service. You brightened our home and our lives on so many special occasions. I hope there really is heavenly choir (or band) and you get direct sometimes!

Kathy Nolen Hannah
Wilmington, NC

Mr. Hill was my band director from 1961-1966. I was the WHS Band president my senior year (65-66) and treasure every moment and memory with him. I loved being able to sing our alma mater and fight song with him in 2016 for our 50th reunion. What a privilege to have known and loved him.

Sandra Lesko
North Ridgeville

What a testament to a great teacher and a wonderful man. My life was forever changed by his undying support, encouragement, and patience. Much of what I have accomplished is due to his guidance and faith in me. RIP Mr. Hill.

Roy Oehme
N. Ridgeville, OH

Besides my parents, Mr. Hill was one of the most influential people in my life. He shaped my love for music, and made me a better person. Rest easy. May the Lord Bless You and Keep You….