Whether he was coaching youth soccer, chairing committees, writing budgets or speaking with constituents, Andy Hill made a difference, friends and colleagues say.
State Sen. Hill, 54, of Redmond passed away Tuesday afternoon after a battle with lung cancer.
State Sen. Joe Fain released the following message at the request of Hill’s family: “It is with deep sorrow that I am writing to inform you that our friend and colleague has passed.”
Fain added that Hill’s wife Molly sends the family’s gratitude to those who knew and were touched by Andy. “The only thing he loved more than public service was his wife and children, Katie, Allie, and Charlie – he was tremendously proud of them,” Fain said.
A memorial service will be held on Nov. 11 in Redmond. Additional details will be available soon. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for people to make a donation in Hill’s name to Cancer Pathways, Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE), or Dr. Jed Gorden’s outreach to underserved communities through Swedish Medical Center.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said that Hill leaves a legacy of compassion and pragmatism. Hill was in the middle of his second consecutive term on the Washington State Senate.
“Andy was a strong advocate for his east King County district, and I am grateful for his work to expand access to cultural programs and secure dedicated funding for public health,” Constantine said in a statement.
Hill (R-Redmond) of the 45th Legislative District was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of 2009, and after treatment using a drug called crizotnib, doctors said he was cancer free in February 2010, according to a Reporter article in January of 2011.
This past June, Hill learned that his doctors discovered a small recurrence of lung cancer, he wrote on his website.
Hill was one of the scheduled speakers at a recent Cancer Pathways event, but was unable to attend as he was regaining his strength after undergoing cancer treatment.
While Hill was unable to attend, Molly did attend the breakfast.
She did not address the crowd but told the Reporter that their family was introduced to Pathways when Andy was asked to be a model in the organization’s annual Surviving with Style Fashion Show fundraiser six years ago. Prior to this, they didn’t know Pathways existed.
Molly described Pathways as a “really unbelievable support network.” She said they are like the best friend who knows exactly what to say in these situations.
Eight months after being diagnosed in 2009, Hill was approved by a clinical trial in Denver to use crizotinib. The white pill was part of a new arsenal of “targeted” cancer therapies, and in the 2011 Reporter article, Hill and Molly called the pill “a miracle.”
Since he started taking the pill in October 2009, the cancer tumor continually subsided and the chest scans since February 2010 showed no cancer at all, noted the Reporter article.
“It took my doctors over four months to diagnose this disease (lung cancer), figuring that a healthy, athletic person that had never smoked a day in his life would never have lung cancer,” he said in the article.
In his message in June, Hill noted that he worked to maintain close communication with his constituents during his time as a candidate and state senator. He added that it was part of his commitment to honest and accountable representation, and that’s why he was giving a personal update.
Hill praised the health care system and thanked his doctors for allowing him to be part of the crizotinib trial.
“That drug soon became available to all and it and its successors have protected me for many years,” he wrote. “But the body can build up an immunity to specific treatments.”
Hill was the key budget writer for Senate Republicans, was chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee and is a member of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education committee. He helped pass the VIP Act, which granted life-changing services to thousands of families of people with developmental disabilities in the state.
“Our community has lost a tremendous man and leader,” said King County Council member Kathy Lambert in a statement. “Whether you knew him professionally, as a friend, or through his vast community involvement, he was someone who instantly earned the love of those around him. His dedication to serving children through his involvement in PTSA, coaching soccer, and tutoring was truly inspiring and will leave a lasting legacy that transcends generations.”
Hill was born in Denver, Colo., and graduated cum laude from Colgate University in 1986 with a bachelor of science degree in physics and computer science. He later earned his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 2000.
He moved to Washington state in 1990 to join Microsoft where he worked on Windows ‘95 and developed learning and content delivery platforms for K-12 schools.
As board president of the Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association, he brought citizens, property owners and local government together to build nine new athletic fields for area youth and returned a historic piece of Sammamish Valley agricultural land to organic farming.
Gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant called Hill a friend and trusted adviser to his campaign in a statement. Bryant will miss Hill’s counsel and leadership.
Added King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer in a statement: “Senator Andy Hill was a man of family, faith and friends, and he was a credit to all of them. He was respected by the people in his district and by the many friends on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature. His abilities and skills benefited King County and all of the people of our state.”
Saddened Reporter readers flocked to the paper’s Facebook page to leave condolences on Tuesday afternoon.
One poster said she used to drive his kids to kindergarten on the school bus. Another poster said she worked with Hill in Olympia and is proud to be a resident in his district.
“Met him years ago when he came to our door to introduce himself arriving on his bicycle. And again a couple more times…on his bike and said hello at 60 Acres many times over the years,” another poster added.
People can share any memories of Hill or messages to the family by emailing RememberAndyHill@gmail.com.
The King County Council paid their respect to Hill on Monday.
“As a state senator working with Sen. Hill from the time he first started as a freshman, I became impressed right away with his courage and willingness to stand up for his beliefs. A good example is his having voted for my medical marijuana licensing system legislation, even though his caucus leadership opposed it,” said Council member Jeanne Kohl-Welles. “In addition, I was able to get to know Andy in a less formal way when we were part of a delegation promoting Washington state wine in Taiwan. A man of principle, high intellect, collegiality, and integrity, Sen. Andy Hill will be missed by all.”