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Local

The ‘face’ of Kaneville is always smiling: Pat Hill known for her ‘big heart’

Pat Hill known for her ‘big heart’

Kaneville Village President Pat Hill owns Hill's Country Store and has been battling cancer.
Kaneville Village President Pat Hill owns Hill's Country Store and has been battling cancer.

Pat Hill has “only” lived in Kaneville since 1995.

But you’d never know that, said Alvah Withey, Kaneville Township supervisor.

“She’s just 100 percent Kaneville,” he said. “I’ve been out here 75 years myself. To have someone come out and be a stranger, only be here [20] years or so, and take Kaneville to heart, that’s something.”

It’s not just that Hill is village president, a position she’s held since 2013.

It’s not just that she’s sat on the historical society board, that she’s on the committee for Christmas in Kaneville or that she helped start Kaneville Fest and oversaw it until just this past year.

And it’s not just that she owns Hill’s Country Store, endearingly referred to as The Purple Store, which has long been the hub of town.

It’s that her positive attitude and generous spirit are constant, even amidst a health battle she’s been fighting since late 2014.

Hill was diagnosed with stage 4 breast, bone and liver cancer, but you’d never know that either.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood,” said Lynda Fillipp, director of the Kaneville Public Library. “She says hi to everybody. Even on her worst days, she’s over there [at The Purple Store] grilling and cooking.”

Yes, Hill still tries to work her morning shift to alleviate the hours that her daughter, Alexa, 26, puts in while Hill fights off bouts of dizziness and exhaustion.

But she doesn’t dwell on the negatives. Instead, the 52-year-old focuses on what she’s looking forward to.

That includes a long list of fundraisers – not that will benefit her, but others.

There’s the Angel Tree she’ll put up at her store, through which customers – and Hill, herself – will buy presents for hospice patients. There are drives for the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation, with Hill spearheading the collection of toiletry items for veterans and toys for children.

She’ll soon gather items for Operation Christmas Child, packing shoeboxes of presents to be distributed to children in need around the world.

“I like to be busy – it keeps my mind off my troubles,” Hill said. “And I help people at the same time, so it’s a win-win for me. And I’m also teaching my kids that you gotta give back.”

Hill said her volunteerism began when she started taking her daughter to a nursing home in West Chicago when Alexa was 18 months old.

The residents loved visits from the sweet baby, but Hill soon wondered if there was more she could do. She baked cupcakes and donated prizes for bingo games.

When she moved to Kaneville, her spirit of generosity grew.

“It’s fun to volunteer,” Hill said. “It’s fun for me to see happiness on other people’s faces over what you do.”

For years, Hill has shown movies on the side of The Purple Store, doling out free popcorn. She’s quick to provide candy coupons for the summer reading program at the library.

She also created a $500 Small Business Scholarship to help high school students pay for college items.

“I don’t think there’s anything she would say no to,” Fillipp said. “If you asked for a donation, she would happily give it to you. She’s a very giving person.”

In perhaps the simplest form of humanitarianism, Hill keeps a small can at her store for donations for specific families impacted by last year’s devastating tornado.

“I would hope, if that happened to me, somebody would help me,” she said. “I’m finding that out 100-fold. I can’t believe how generous and how kind people are.”

Hill refers to the fundraisers that have been hosted in her honor – and there have been many, from small benefits to a large fundraiser at Fishermen’s Inn in Elburn that generated $50,000.

“People know what’s she’s like,” Withey said. “That just isn’t from Kaneville – it’s from Elburn, Sugar Grove, Kaneland High School … . She’s got a big heart.”

The Hill lowdown

Who she is: Kaneville village president; owner of Hill’s Country Store

Village of residence: Kaneville

Age: 52

Family: Husband, Cliff; daughter, Alexa; son, Tyler

Hobbies: Gardening, visiting her lake house in Wisconsin, boating

Fun fact: “I did jump into a pond and save someone when I was 18.”

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