Lauding local Legion Post’s First Commander
HUGHESVILLE – “Most towns people in Hughesville referred to Raymond Lee Hill as ‘Hillie’, the WWI veteran who’d wed Kathryn Gautsch. He was a great and gentle man with a soft and quiet demeanor, and yet a little on the comical side,” according to niece Ann Myers Rider.
Differences didn’t interfere with the couple’s compatibility. Rider said, “Kathryn tolerated his cigar smoking and neither seemed to have a problem with Hillie being Lutheran while Kathryn was Methodist. Each Sunday, they went to their separate churches.”
Another consideration of the veteran’s personal life came from Don Price. The nephew spoke of a delicacy he’d harvested from the hunt. “Occasionally, Uncle Raymond liked to eat a little groundhog,” Price said.
As the couple was childless, nieces Ann Rider and Alice Jane Andrews (Marcy) became very close. Rider said that, “Kathryn and Hillie took us along on their summer vacations. Alice Jane always managed to get car sick, but it didn’t seem to keep her from being invited. We visited relatives in Swedesboro, New Jersey, then motored on to Cape May.”
Of her first trip to the seashore, Rider recalled, “Uncle Hillie asked me what I thought of the ocean? My reply was, ‘I thought it would be bigger.’ He got a big laugh out of that.” At that time, the nieces didn’t know that in 1918, their uncle, a member of Company D with the 314 Infantry Regiment, had crossed the ocean to France.
The veteran had a bit part in WWII as well, working for Modecraft, a manufacturer of life rafts in nearby Muncy.
Upon retirement, the couple spent winter months in Florida, at Winter Haven, where they made many friends enjoying time there together.
Many times during foreign service, Sergeant Hill’s life was in exceedingly great danger. The following credit was given to his regiment: “Of the American Army, the 314th made the farthest advance into German lines.”
Back home, the Wolf Township native was active in community life. In 1922 at Hughesville, Hill was instrumental in establishing the Glenn Sharrow American Legion Post #35. Additionally, he was its First Commander.
The veteran’s organizational skills continued when in 1937, he was a member of the reunion committee when the regiment met in Williamsport. Hosted at the Lycoming Hotel, a visit to Rauchtown Park was arranged for the late September three-day event.
Staged by the 314th of the Williamsport District, the group was one of fourteen in the state. The official reunion booklet gave tribute to the area’s 21 who’d fallen in France. From our readership area, they included Charles K. Mull of Montgomery, and Elmer F. Gardner of Unityville. Also listed were 16 war survivors who had died by 1937. That list included Clayton Banzhaf of Muncy.
In 1963 at age 73, Raymond Hill died and is interred at Pleasant Hill Cemetery near Hughesville.
In 1971, the President of Pennsylvania’s districts, Lewis F. Robinson wrote: “The 314th has some important goals to be met. We should all try our best to renew our children’s interest in the 314th. They are our future, individually and as the 314th.”
Continuing through the present day, Robinson’s request is being met. The Sunday afternoon of each Memorial Day weekend, individuals gather inside Washington’s Chapel on the grounds at Valley Forge. The children of the veterans’ children assemble for annual observances.
Ninety-nine years after the men of the 314th were welcomed back to American shores, the Memorial Day event has been held. This Centennial year’s program features can be found by googling the website: “Descendants and Friends of the 314th”. The public is invited to attend.
The following is from the regiment’s archives: “So long as Soldiers stand the Defender of Liberty and Law; so long shall this Republic endure in honor.”