2018-04-04 / Obituaries

Donald Hill

Donald Wayne Hill passed away on January 12, 2018 in New York City after a short illness.

He is survived by Chris Criswell, his partner of 25 years, their daughter Diana Criswell of Brooklyn, and an extensive family of cherished friends.

He was born on December 15, 1958 in Huntsville, Alabama to Gracie Mitchell Hill and Harold Hill. After moving moving north he began a career as a location scout with the NY Film Commission. This inspired an interest in architecture and design. He returned to school, graduating with honors in Architecture from Parsons School of Design. He studied in Paris, Rome, Florence, and Venice.

He then went on to establish his own firm, Donald Hill Interiors, which ran for 25 years and produced a broad portfolio of residential and commercial projects, ranging from high-end apartments, executive offices, yachts and gracious country homes to restaurants and nightclubs, both here and abroad. He also lectured on design both here and abroad. These experiences in places like the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka contributed a broader cultural dimension to his work. Throughout, Donald remained connected to a very humble and challenged upbringing, remarking that nothing helps you understand space planning like living in a trailer.

Donald’s love of the Catskills began in 1985 when he discovered the waterfall by the side of Highway 28 between Margaretville and Andes while scouting film locations for the NY Film Commission. Years later, he would buy his first home within earshot of that waterfall.

By his own count, Donald lived in more than 13 places before he finished high school, so he particularly loved creating a home in the Catskills with his partner, Chris, that felt like his real home.

His love of the Catskills was evident in his dedication to community efforts. Donald was a coordinating member of the citizens committee that designed, funded, and constructed the current pavilion in the Margaretville town park. He was also active in the community, serving as a board member and fundraiser for the MARK Project. Donald loved to combine cooking and entertainment, particularly when it helped raise money for a worthy cause. That included auctioning private dinner parties to support the Roxbury Arts Group and the Margaretville Hospital Foundation. In New York he developed and participated in numerous events that generated significant funding for Housing Works and DIFFA. Aside from these public acts, Donald took particular delight in anonymous private charity and random acts of kindness every day, that he never publicized, even to many of the recipients.

Though he never grew up in a church, Donald developed a deep personal faith, and became an active member of the Margaretville United Methodist Church, where he served as a certified lay speaker and member of the choir.

Donald was a blessing to all who knew him. He will be remembered by many as a kind, generous person with a strong personal faith, boundless optimism, and well-developed sense of humor, who believed we are all put here to help and encourage others.

A celebration of Donald Hill’s life will take place on Saturday, April 21 at 1 p.m. at the Margaretville United Methodist Church. Memorial donations may be made to the MARK Project, the Binghamton Children’s Home, Parsons School of Design, and the Margaretville United Methodist Church. The other fitting memorial to Donald would be to do something nice today for someone who doesn’t expect it.

Another celebration of Donald’s life will take place in New York City on Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. at Broadway United Church of Christ at 263 West 86 Street (at West End Avenue).

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