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Alvin Hills, Jr. March 11, 1941 – August 15, 2020
Patriarch of the Ben Banks and Alvin Hills, Sr. Families
Alvin Hills, Jr. was born March 11, 1941 in New Orleans LA. To Alvin Hills, Sr. and Alma Banks Hills.
He attended elementary schools in Thibodaux, LA prior to his parents (Alma and Alvin) migrating
to Grand Rapids in 1948. He then would attend Sheldon Elementary School.
He was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his siblings Juanita, Delta, Betty, and Donald. Alvin
was born a natural leader at a very young age as he was the “big brother” of his siblings. He was
protective, encouraging, and was supportive of his parents in advising and assisting his siblings
with various projects and homework assignments. His love of cooking began by making his
siblings fudge and peanut butter cookies but would advance dramatically with the grill later in
life. Growing up he developed close friendship, he enjoyed western movies and Superman. He
also enjoyed swimming at Campau Park. Alvin also liked to build soapbox derby vehicles and race
them. He understood the value of a dollar and in his youth had a paper route to earn money, and
with it, purchased his own new Schwinn bicycle.
Alvin graduated from South High School in 1958. He enjoyed and excelled at Math, Drafting, and
Mechanical Drawing. He was also a member of ROTC and the track team. In all of his endeavors,
he strived for excellence. In Math his calculations had to be correct. In Mechanical class his lines
had to be perfectly straight. In ROTC his shoes had to be polished and in track he displayed his
endurance in his favorite event, “the mile run”, he always challenged himself to finish at a faster
time than the previous race he ran. Alvin received his Associates Degree for Mechanical
Technology from grand Rapids Community College.
Alvin followed the philosophy of Dr. M. L. King, Jr. "be the best you can be at whatever you are
doing". Upon graduation, Alvin Jr. was employed by Rapistan/Siemens Dematic. He rose through
the ranks and broke through barriers to claim the Supervision position at a time when
discriminatory practices were heightened. Always striving to help others and due to his record of
outstanding achievement, he was able to bring into the ranks many friends, family members and
other qualified people regardless of their ethnicity. Everyone that was hired knew Alvin's high
standards of performance and came aboard knowing that a lackluster performance would not be
tolerated. They knew that he opened doors for them to be successful and provide opportunities
for all who he thought would rise to the occasion. Alvin was not only greatly respected by his
employees and all levels of management, his work was held in high regard. He retired after 42
years of service as a Plant Superintendent.
Although Alvin had a great career, he was never content with one profession. While working at
Rapistan, Alvin took classes at Davenport College and he and his cousin Sidney Rhodes opened a
Bookkeeping and Tax Preparation Business. He also invested in stocks, bonds and real-estate. In
addition, he built and programmed computers and used his analytical skills to trouble shoot and
diagnose computer problems without being physically present. Alvin recognized the need to be
computer literate and passed those skills down to his sons, grandchildren and even his great
grandchildren. He enjoyed building computers and would give computers to family members
who would ask for one. He would fix not only computers that he built, but anyone who had a
problem with their PC. Alvin Jr. also loved taking pictures and used his computer, along with his
photography skills to create many memorable experiences for family and friends.
Alvin Jr. would soon meet the love of his life, Annette M. Johnson at Pilgrim Rest Baptist
Church. They were united in marriage on June 1, 1963 and have been inseparable for over 57
years. On December 9th 1963, Alvin and Annette would bring twins into this world. Alvin III and
Calvin, and later, June 1st 1970 (on their anniversary) Duane Douglas Hills would follow.
This is a family led by a man whose goal was to ensure that the family continues the legacy of
togetherness that has been a guiding force through many generations. The family celebrates
every holiday with either backyard barbeques or gatherings which started at the Kitchen table
but would later grow throughout the whole house because of the size of the family. Although
the food, especially the barbeque with that special sauce, may seem to be the center of attention,
family values are established, love is evident and the family knows that home is where the heart
is, and the family bond grows stronger when they can have fun and enjoy being with each other.
Alvin and Annette continued the tradition of spending quality time together by taking their
grandchildren on vacations to Atlanta, GA, Orland FL, Gulfport MS, Buffalo NY, and many other
sites of their choosing. They were fixtures at all their grandkids activities including: academic,
extra-curricular and professional recognitions. These activities covered the spectrum from preschool through college and included recitals and track meets, football and basketball games,
plays, graduations, and the "Forty under Forty" to watch in Grand Rapids. You name it, and if a
family member was involved, they were there.
Alvin grew up in a Christian home and accepted Christ at an early age. He was baptized at Pilgrim
Rest Baptist Church under the late Rev. E. H. Hill, Sr. and sang in the youth choir with his late
cousin Rev. Clifton Rhodes, Jr. and friends from church, school and the community. Sundays were
spent in church starting with Sunday school, morning worship, BTU at 6:00 and an evening service
that started at 7:00. Alvin and his friends made the rounds, having Sunday dinners at his parent's
home and then the homes of some of his lifelong friends between the church services. As the
young men matured, they were often chosen as delegates to the Sunday School and BTU
Congress of the Chain Lake Association. Alvin Jr. and his family served at Pilgrim Rest Baptist
Church under the leadership of Rev. Aaron Harris and Rev. Maurice Jones. He left Pilgrim Rest to
worship with and support his father, Rev. Alvin Hills, Sr., who was Founder and Pastor of the M.L.
King Jr. Baptist Church. Upon the death of his father, he joined Messiah Baptist Church under
the pastoral leadership of Rev. Clifton Rhodes, Jr. Alvin was not only a believer of giving a tenth
of if his income, he also gave his time and talents. After retiring, Messiah was like his second
home. He sang in the Male Chorus, attended bible study, Sunday services, and volunteered on
the personnel and finance committees.
Alvin Jr. was a man who wore many hats and he wore them well. He was a plant superintendent,
yet he was a gardener, landscaper, wise counselor, son, husband, brother, uncle, cousin,
grandfather, and the Patriarch of the Hills family. Alvin was very intelligent and remained a
lifelong learner. He was always looking for new opportunities and challenges and wanting
tomorrow to be better than today. Remember him for what he meant to you personally.
Thank you, Annette, for going over and above what you promised on your wedding day on June
1, 1963. Thank you to his three sons: Alvin III, Calvin and Duane, for sticking by your dad to the
very end and making sure that he was comfortable, loved, and respected in his role as Patriarch.
One of the highlights of the last year was the Rhodes Family Reunion in Thibodaux, LA, and
meeting with other family members in Gulfport, MS over the Labor Day weekend in 2019. Thank
you, Sarah, Keisha, Alvin IV, JaWanza, Jasmine, Diamond, Dominique, Marissa and Lyric for
stepping up when it was necessary to take care of Grandpa. Thank you to the great grands who
made papa, grandpa, or paw-paw smile, (each had their own special name of endearment). A
special thank you to Candice Todd & Jasmine Ferrer who have spent many hours and nights as a
care giver and a support system for the Hills family. Thank you, Lynn Johnson, Sandra & Toby
Holiday who stood by Alvin and assisted with his care. Thank you Kristine for the Sunday dinners
and the many ways that you offered support.
Alvin Hills Jr. was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Alvin Hills Sr. and Alma Banks Hills,
Maternal grandparents, Ben Banks and Ellen Rhodes Banks and Paternal grandparents, Ned Hills
and Elnora Pierre Hills. Sister Juanita Hills, brother Donald Hills, and granddaughter, Selena Hills.
Alvin Hills Jr. will be sorely missed by those who will cherish his memory and carry on his legacy.
Annette M Hills, devoted wife of more than 57 years. Sons: Alvin lll (Rose), Calvin (Gisela), Duane
(Melissa) all Grand Rapids. Sisters: Delta H. Jeburk (George), McDonough, GA, and Betty J.
Ratcliff (William) of Ann Arbor, MI. Grandsons: Jawanza Sims (Jeanette), Dominique Alvarez
(Abriel), and Alvin Hills IV (Tanell) all of Grand Rapids. Granddaughters: Sarah Oliver Bryant,
Kentwood, MI, Keshia M. Hills, Marissa Alvarez, Jasmine Ferrer (Tavari), Diamond Ferrer, and
Lyric M. Hills all of Grand Rapids.
Great grandsons: Alvin V, Avery, Apollo, Adonis, Dominique Jr., Jameir, Jaydin, Jordan, Elijah and
Great granddaughters: Maya, Kearie, Arionne, Alexa, Aniya, Destinee, and Avah. Sisters-in-law:
Alma Nelson, Sandra Holiday, Lynn Johnson, and Mildred Applewhite. Brother-in-law: Willie
Godchildren: William Ratcliff and Rosanita Ratcliff and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and