Las Vegas Sun

December 19, 2018

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Charlotte Hill, founder of Sun Camp Fund and pioneer of Las Vegas volunteerism, dies at 92

Charlotte Hill

Las Vegas Sun Archives

Charlotte Hill, former President of the Board of Directors for the Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp Fund in 1977.

Updated Monday, April 30, 2018 | 1:46 p.m.

Charlotte Hill Through The Years

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Charlotte Hill was so active in so many causes, so giving to so many organizations — maintaining a high energy level no matter how thin she spread herself — that even her closest friends could not understand how she was able to do all that she accomplished.

“I would guess that Charlotte was just one of those people who was born to give of herself,” longtime friend Ruby Epps said. “When it came to raising money, she was stubborn, never taking no for an answer. She was an intelligent, elegant woman.”

Seven decades of local volunteerism came to an end Thursday when Hill died at her Las Vegas home following a lengthy illness. She was 92. Hill was active with her charities and boards practically to the end, having survived skin cancer two years ago. But last November her health took a sharp decline when she broke her hip during a fall.

Hill was past-president of the United Way of Southern Nevada, past-president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada, a founder of Friends of Channel 10 and the founder/past chairwoman of the Las Vegas Sun Camp Fund that has sent thousands of financially challenged Southern Nevada children to summer camp since 1970.

A celebration of life for the Las Vegas resident of 66 years will be 4:30 p.m. Monday, May 14, at Las Vegas Country Club.

“Mom was a pioneer in volunteerism in Southern Nevada,” said Linda Hill Wade. “I’d say her middle name was volunteerism. When she came to Las Vegas she joined up with community leaders who, like her, saw a need to help a lot of disadvantaged people in town.”

In 1954, two years after moving to Las Vegas from Cincinnati with her husband, James J. Hill, Charlotte founded the Frontier Girl Scouts — her first venture into volunteer work — and later became acting executive director of the organization.

“My mother wanted to give young girls quality time after school to help them build character and independence,” Candy Schneider said. “She just wanted to bring goodwill to her community.”

A longtime friend of late Sun co-Publisher Barbara Greenspun, Hill, who was long active in the American Camping Association, approached Barbara and her husband, Hank Greenspun, in 1970 with an idea to send local inner-city kids to summer camp. Soon after, the program was launched.

At its peak, the camp fund, which paid for transportation of campers and the camp dues, sent as many as 800 local youths to camp in a single year. The Sun Camp Fund in 2015 merged with the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada. At that time, Hill stepped aside as chairwoman.

Epps, who long worked closely with Hill on the Sun Camp Fund, said Charlotte insisted that none of the money raised for the project be used for administration costs.

Linda said her mother “never took a dime” from any charity for her administrative work.

In a June 12, 1988, Sun story Hill said her payment was the joy her work brought her.

“I have the freedom to walk out and go shopping if I want to — I don’t,” she said. “I find enjoyment and satisfaction in what I do here.”

Born Charlotte Gelman in Cincinnati on Oct. 15, 1925, Charlotte was raised in Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. She and Jim Hill, a longtime casino executive who worked for the Fremont and Caesars Palace among other resorts, were married for about 50 years until his death in 2000.

She spent many years organizing volunteers for fundraising drives for local Public Broadcasting Service station KLVX Channel 10. She also was a member of several public broadcasting organizations including the PBS Voluntary Advisory Committee and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Public Participation Task Force.

In 1971, Hill helped found Friends of Channel 10 and served as its director until 1998.

Friends of Channel 10 was later renamed Southern Nevada Public Television; Hill served on its board of directors until recent years.

An advocate for higher education, Hill served on the Nevada Board of Education, was a past-chairwoman of Community College of Southern Nevada Foundation and was a member of the UNLV Foundation.

Hill also founded the Voluntary Action Center, now called HELP of Southern Nevada, and held key positions in the Allied Arts Council, Economic Opportunity Board, and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada.

In 1991, the Clark County School District named Charlotte Hill Elementary School in her honor.

Among her numerous honors, Hill received the Distinguished Nevadan Award from UNLV, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce’s Women of Achievement acknowledgement and the United Way’s Alexis de Tocqueville Award and Golden Rule Award.

In 2017, Hill donated The Charlotte Hill Papers, highlighting her voluminous body of work with charitable organizations, to the UNLV Libraries Special Collections and Archives.

In addition to her daughters, Hill is survived by her sons-in-law Jim Wade and Michael Schneider; two grandchildren, Jim Hill and Andrew Schneider; and five great-grandchildren.

Her family said donations could be made in Hill’s memory to the Charlotte Hill Society at Vegas PBS, Nathan Adelson Hospice or the Las Vegas Sun Summer Camp Fund.

Ed Koch is a former longtime Las Vegas Sun reporter.