Guest Column: Defending works of forgotten DA — (The Amarillo Globe-News)

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The Amarillo Globe-News

By Roxanne Hill Garno

I find in myself an array of emotions in writing this: sadness, anger, love and joy. As we celebrated Independence Day, and before that Father’s Day, someone special had been on my mind, who no doubt, were he still alive, would’ve been looking forward to a barbecue with family and friends. On Father’s Day, he would have had big hugs and kisses from his daughters and a firm handshake from his only son.

But he’s not here and hasn’t been for a little over 11 years. This man was my dad, 47th District Attorney Danny E. Hill. A man who fought hard for years upon years to rid our great community of the worst of criminals, who would kill, maim and violate without a smidgen of remorse.

As I look back on his short but full life, I don’t remember the drinking, the bad press or the way most of the community turned on him. Rather, I look back in awe that in the 47 years this man was alive, he contributed more to the city he loves than most people will if they live to be 100.

When my baby sister died, my father was made out to be a horrific man who had passed down suicidal genes to his youngest daughter, thereby causing her untimely death. And of course, the Globe-News had to put that on the front page for all to see.

What a tragedy. Instead of remembering him for all he had done for our community, all people could talk about was how the horrible Danny Hill had caused someone else’s death, his own child’s no less, almost 10 years after he had died. He had no one to stand up for him and say, “No! That’s not true!” nor could he even defend himself. So, being his oldest and much wiser daughter, I decided to do it for him.

Did my father cause my sister’s death? No. I would venture to say that all the antidepressant medication she was on played a huge role in that. After all, Dad has five other children who are doing just fine, thank you very much.

Why am I writing this now? To make all of you remember who Danny Hill was as a person. He was charismatic, funny, witty and, just like you and I, had his shortcomings. He wasn’t God; he was but one man, working hard every day to keep all of us safe.

Have all of you forgotten his work with abused children, trying to get laws passed so that children didn’t have to endure abuse at the hands of their loved ones? Sure you have. After all, people would rather remember the last year of Dad’s life and his personal battles than remember the 18 previous years, when he was but one man fighting for all of us, fighting for this community. He loved Amarillo more than any of you will ever know.

My dad was out to change the world. He wanted all of us to live in a better place, where locking our doors at night wasn’t a necessity for our safety. Criminals feared my father. Knowing that Danny Hill was prosecuting their case sent fear to their very core.

Dad wanted peace and harmony for all, including himself. Too bad he never got to experience that.

The other night I Googled my dad’s name; a name which should’ve brought up hundreds of articles and pictures about his amazing accomplishments. I couldn’t find one thing. Not one! What a shame that he was so easily forgotten.

Forget about what happened in the final stages of this great man’s life. Remember who he really was: a son, a brother, a father and a defender of people, big and small. He deserves at least that.

Roxanne Hill Garno lives in Amarillo.

 

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Former DA’s daughter commits suicide also — (Amarillo Globe-News)

Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2004

KAREN D. SMITH    karen.smith@amarillo.com

Terry Bentley Hill always worried one of her daughters would follow the despondent path to suicide traveled by their father, former 47th District Attorney Danny Hill.

Her worst fear became reality Sept. 8 when her 14-year-old daughter, Hallie, took her life at a boarding school in Granbury. She had been struggling with depression for about a year, her mother said in a telephone interview from her University Park home.

Hill had maintained a constant vigil for signs of the disease in the four daughters she had with Danny Hill, a sufferer of depression and alcoholism who committed suicide on April 9, 1995, at her Amarillo home.

The 47-year-old district attorney had been experiencing many difficulties, including a divorce from Hill, alcohol addiction and a public battle over a charge of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated.

Always, in the back of her mind, Hill dreaded the possibility that her children might have inherited a tendency toward depression or suicide, she said.

“I can just tell you that it was almost a companion of fear that lived in my brain from the day Danny shot himself,” she said. “That became a real possibility that I lived with for nine and a half years – and then it came true.”

Neither Hallie nor her father thought they made an impact on others’ lives the way they dreamed they would. But they did, Hill said.

“I remember walking into the church at Danny’s funeral service. I saw 2,000 people sitting there, and I thought, ‘The person who needs to see this is gone,”‘ she said.

An estimated 1,400 gathered to celebrate Hallie’s life at a Sept. 11 memorial service in Dallas, Hill said.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “They were from all over the state. They were from Amarillo, they were from Houston, they were people she went to Camp Longhorn with.”

Many have extended condolences to the family, including friends from Amarillo, where some family members still reside, she said.

“There are a lot of people in Amarillo who love Hallie,” she said. “I cannot tell you how overwhelmed we have been by the love we have felt from Amarillo. And it’s been unconditional.

“The love for this family has been overwhelming.”

Hallie committed suicide a day after what would’ve been her father’s 57th birthday, Hill said.

“We just don’t know – we don’t know what effect it had on her,” Hill said.

In addition to Hill, Hallie is survived by her stepfather, Tom Krampitz; sisters Cadie, Elizabeth and Bentley Hill of University Park, and Roxanne Garno of Amarillo; a brother, Danny E. Hill of Los Angeles; and grandparents Sue Hochmuth Studley of Houston, Tom Bentley Sr. of Richardson, Ralph Hill of Amarillo and Bo Krampitz of Austin.

She attended Highland Park schools in the Dallas area and most recently was a student at Happy Hill Farm/Academy in Granbury.

The family requests memorials go to Chemical Awareness Resource Education, an organization that educates the community about substance and alcohol dependency, at 6000 Preston Road, Dallas, TX 75205, or to Happy Hill Farm/Academy, 3846 N. Highway 144, Granbury, TX 76048.

Hill is a board member for CARE, she said.