Kenneth Raymond Hill of Portal, N.D.


Kenneth Raymond Hill of Portal, North Dakota, the son of Frederick A. Hill and Emma LaVada Rawlings was born Jan 10, 1908 in Redfield, Iowa and weight 10 lbs. According to Kenneth he was born in a house across from the city park.

Kenneth Hill and his family lived in Portal from 1954 until his passing on Feb 15, 1990. He spent 19 years with the Customs Service at Portal until his retirement in 1973. His widow, Esther Anderson Hill, lived  in Portal, in the same home that the family moved into in 1956 until she moved to Grand Forks, N.D.in 2002. Kenneth is buried at the Portal Community Cemetery, one mile South and 1/2 mile East of Portal.  Esther died on Nov 24, 2005 at the age of 95 and is buried with Kenneth.  She was the oldest child of Carl F. Anderson and Laura Hultman. She grew up in Sioux City, Iowa and received her education there graduating with honors from Center High School.  While a senior, Ester took part in shorthand and typing contest representing Central High.  In an Iowa state contest she was named third place idividual winner among 80 teams.  Her score was less than one point from first place.  After graduation she worked as a secretary for a life insurance company.  While in Portal she was very active in the Presbyterian Church and being the clerk for 20 years.  She and Kenneth enjoyed extensive travel within the U.S. and trips to Europe and visiting her Swedish relatives and exploring her Swedish roots.  Interesting that she only spoke Swedish when she started school..

When 3 months old, his parents moved to Bowman Co., North Dakota where they homesteaded for 3 1/2 years near Haley, North Dakota , 1908-1911

The family then moved to Brown's Ranch, Bon Homme Co., South Dakota where they lived for 21/2 years, and then to Mullers' Ranch in the same county for 6 months. Frederick Hill was a ranch foreman at these two locations. Kenneth Hill started school while living at Mullers' Ranch. 1911-1914.

The family moved to Sioux City, Iowa in the spring of 1914 and lived in Greenville and Coles Addition. Kenneth Hill started Senior Kindergarten at Franklin School under Miss Ryan. He attended Franklin School four years (1914-1918) and then his parents moved to Riverside residing at 2115 Boies St and 2223 Metropolitan Street until a new home was completed at 2221 Metropolitan Street. Kenneth lived there until his marriage in 1929.

The following is copied from Kenneth Hill's auto biography which he wrote for the "Pembinian' the U.S. Customs news letter for the Pembina District describing life in Sioux City during his younger years:

"We lived in Riverside, which is a suburb of Sioux City, about 5 miles from the business district, and my boyhood was spent in the boy's paradise. High sloping hills which provided excellent sleighing and hunting in the winter and plenty of room for "cowboys" or hiking in all seasons. Also, the woods along the Big Sioux River furnished plenty of firewood for the overnight camp.The long summer "daze" were passed fishing and swimming in the Sioux, Floyd, and best of all, the old abandoned brick plant, where many an hour was spent exploring its dirty, rotting interior. On those hot days what better place to tarry and chew on the foxtail stem than in the cool shade of the old brick kiln?"

A favorite story of the Hill family concerns Kenneth and his brother Veryl swimming during those lazy days of summer. Kenneth's mother, LaVada, wanted the boys dad, Fred, to take them down to the river and teach them to swim. It seems that the boys had been sneaking down to the river and their father learned they could swim as well or better than he could. During that time LaVada worked as a waitress on certain days, until about noon, during that time the boys would run off down to the river. During one of these days Veryl, naked, jumped up and down showing off to the horrified girls and women who were passing some distance away. It is not clear if this ever got back to the boys parents.

Kenneth attended Central High School and one year at Morningside College academy. He was active in scouting earning 21 merit badges and the title of Eagle Scout, one of the first in Sioux City. He was the Assistant Scout Master of Troop 23 during 1927-1928.

On June 15 1929 he married Esther Victoria Anderson at the Riverside M.E. Church with the Rev B. M. Watson officiating. Esther was the daughter of Karl Anderson

Kenneth was active in Epworth League work and was a member of the Riverside Community Church (M.E.), a charter member of the Dramatic club of the Riverside Methodist Church. He was a active business manager and makeup artist and appeared in several home talent plays that were presented by the Dramatic club of the Methodist Church.

In 1930 Kenneth went to work as a press operator at the Kari Keen Manufacturing Co. This company made car trunks that were used by farmers for hauling milk to town. This job paid $.60 an hour, however, due to the depression, he was laid off during the winter of 1929. During the 1930, like many people, Kenneth tackled about every job in the book.

In the late 1930's he was employed by the Sioux City Brick and Tile Co.. He was employed at the brickyard from about 1936 until 1942. This started as a part time job, however later Kenneth was promoted to yard foreman. In 1942 Kenneth, Esther, and their four sons moved to Sioux Falls,South Dakota where Kenneth was employed by the War Department as an instructor in the Radio Operating Division at the Air Force Radio School.

This job was a result of Kenneths' knowledge of radios that he had learned by being a Amateur Radio Operator (HAM) since 1939. Kenneth remained a HAM all his life, spending many hours in his radio room contacting other HAMs on all points of the globe and at times coming through loud and clear on the jukebox at the local cafe in Portal. He was somewhat of legend in Portal during the early days of TV because he seem to be able to restore to life any dead TV that had lost its sound or picture or both.

Kenneth was drafted into the Navy but received a medical discharge at the Farragut Naval Hospital 6 months later. He then returned to his job as radio instructor for the Air Force in Sioux Falls. After Germany surrendered in 1945, the base in Sioux Falls was closed and declining a transfer to Scott Field, Illinois, he signed up with the War Shipping Administration as a radio operator on a T-2 tanker at Texas City, Texas. Kenneth logged 27,000 miles in four months. The tanker stopped in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, passed through the Canal both west and east, stopped in Aruba, LeHavre and Rouen, France and finally to New York.

In the summer of 1946 he took a seasonal appointment with the U.S. Customs Service at Northgate, North Dakota. Kenneth then spent three summers at Neche, North Dakota and two summers at Portal, North Dakota finally receiving a permanent appointment to Neche on February 19, 1952. In October 1952 he was transferred to Pembina, North Dakota because of a reduction in force at Neche. No housing was availabe in Pembina so the family took up residence at Noyes, Minnesota, located just accross the Red River from Pembina. During 1952 the family had resided in three states, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota.

After transfering to Portal in 1954, Kenneth was an inspector at the U.S. Border Station in Portal until he became supervisor at Portal on April 19, 1965. He remained the Customs Supervisor in Charge and Acting Port Director until his retirement on June 16, 1973.

After his retirement Kenneth enjoyed his ham radio hobby, working in the garden and traveling. He and Esther made several trips to Sweden to visit Esther relatives in the Varmland region of Sweden.

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