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Millicent Hill, 77; guided future social workers at Simmons

Mrs. Hill taught at Simmons College from 1971 to 1985, Boston College’s graduate school, and at Boston University. Mrs. Hill taught at Simmons College from 1971 to 1985, Boston College’s graduate school, and at Boston University.
By J.M. Lawrence
Globe Correspondent / July 10, 2010

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As a professor of social work at Simmons College in the early 1970s, Millicent Norris Hill taught many future social workers about racism and discrimination.

Mrs. Hill “was a wonderful role model in terms of her clinical abilities and her ability to help students grow,’’ said Johnnie Hamilton-Mason, a Simmons College professor and a former student of Mrs. Hill’s who recalled being one of only a few black students at the school in the 1970s.

Mrs. Hill died July 2 at The Boston House in Dorchester of complications of multiple sclerosis.

She was 77 and was first diagnosed with the disease in 1981.

Raised in Queens, N.Y., Mrs. Hill came to Boston for a job as a clinical social worker at the VA Medical Center in Bedford soon after receiving her master’s degree in social work from Smith College in 1959.

She taught at Simmons from 1971 to 1985 and also taught at the graduate school of social work at Boston College and at Boston University. She became a full-time professor at Simmons in 1975.

Mrs. Hill’s illness cut short her career in teaching. After leaving Simmons, she worked in private counseling for several years and retired by 1990. She moved into The Boston House, a residence for multiple sclerosis patients, in 1993.

“She always had a desire to help folks,’’ said her son David of Silver Spring, Md.

Mrs. Hill was an extra- ordinarily devoted wife and mother who was proud of the achievements of her son and daughters, said her longtime friend, Rutharlene Howe of Brookline.

“She wanted them to have the best of everything, and that meant excel in education,’’ Howe said.

Her son got his law degree at Harvard, while one daughter earned an MBA from Northeastern University and another earned her doctorate from Clark University.

Mrs. Hill was married for more than 30 years to Gerald Hill, who died in 1994. They met at a party when she first came to Boston.

Gerald was a principal in Boston schools for many years. Their home in Roxbury was fire-bombed one evening in 1973 as racial unrest over busing erupted in Boston, Howe said.

Mrs. Hill was home with her children that night while Gerald was out.

“That was a horrendous thing; that’s what forced them to move to Newton,’’ Howe said. “People rallied around them. I remember trying to salvage things, the important things you don’t want to lose, like pictures.’’

She was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Boston and was the church’s clerk for a number of years during the 1970s.

Mrs. Hill was also a charter member of the Rho Epsilon Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, a member of the Newton Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, and a member of Black Citizens of Newton.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Hill leaves her daughters Denise Millicent Day of Centerville, Va., and Deidre Hazel Pauline Hill Butler of Schenectady, N.Y.; five grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A celebration of her life will be held today at noon at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Burial will be in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Dorchester.

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