Builder, Leader David Hill Dies

By Kukec, Anna Marie; Donovan, Deborah | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 27, 2008 | Go to article overview

Builder, Leader David Hill Dies


Kukec, Anna Marie, Donovan, Deborah, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Anna Marie Kukec and Deborah Donovan Daily Herald staff writers

David K. Hill, a suburban philanthropist and the developer who led Kimball Hill Homes as it grew into one of the largest privately held home-building companies in the United States, died early Saturday morning of cancer.

Hill, 67, of Inverness, took the helm of Rolling Meadows-based Kimball Hill Homes from his father in 1969, overseeing the expansion of the company from a builder of suburban starter homes into the Chicago areas ninth-largest home builder, with homes across the country.

A trustee of both Harper College and Roosevelt University, Hill was a longtime civic leader in the suburbs whose contributions ranged from developing new programs at local hospitals to constructing a domestic violence shelter.

"My father demonstrated his concept of community planning when he developed the city of Rolling Meadows, which included making the first land donations for parks and schools ever made across the country," David Hill once said. "Ever since, this concern for traditional community values has been an important part of our corporate vision and has been incorporated into every Kimball Hill Homes community."

Born in Evanston, David Hill graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University and Northwestern University Law School with honors.

He practiced law in Chicago and in Washington, D.C., where he served as a special assistant to the Navy Secretariat for strategic planning and as special counsel on the

U.S.S. Pueblo crisis, in which North Koreans hijacked the Naval ship and held its crew hostage for 11 months. He also co-authored a National Strategic Study Memorandum "The Role of Naval Forces in the 1970s."

Hill returned to Chicago in 1969 to assume the presidency of Kimball Hill Homes.

The Hill familys suburban imprint extends far beyond the homes the company constructed. The family provided seed money to start the Kimball Hill Deaf Institute and created an endowment scholarship fund at Harper. Hill also was a generous contributor to the Northwest Community Hospital Foundation, where he helped fund a new prostate cancer therapy program.

A fervent advocate for affordable housing, Hill was a founding board member of the North West Housing Partnership, a Schaumburg-based nonprofit that promotes economically diverse housing. He and his wife Diane were major supporters of the WINGS domestic violence shelter in Palatine, and he used his influence with area companies to secure donations of materials and labor to build a "safe house" for WINGS clients. The Hills also donated $1 million to the home.

"They could have been involved in all those downtown charities," said David Ungurean, who sits on the Northwest Community Hospital Foundation board of trustees, which Diane Hill chairs. "But with all their success, it was the Northwest suburbs they focused on because that was home."

Ungurean stressed that the Hills "always did things for the right reasons."

"For a guy as successful as he was, he was just such an engaging and approachable man," he said of David Hill.

Equally active in business as philanthropy, Hill served on numerous industry-related executive committees, both regionally and nationally.

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