Winners of the Burbank Women's Chorus music scholarships, 1968.

Winners of the Burbank Women’s Chorus music scholarships, 1968. L-R Brian Hill, Roberleigh Barnhart, and Kathy Au. Photo by Dallas E. Porter.

Last Christmas I was looking through some Christmas cards we had received, and I came across one from Brian Hill, postmarked New York. Do I know a Brian Hill? The only Brian Hill I could think of was a horn player with whom I had my picture taken 44 years ago. He and cellist Roberleigh Barnhart, both of Burroughs High School, and I were music scholarship recipients of the Burbank Women’s Chorus in 1968. The photo, along with a short article, appeared in the Burbank Daily Review newspaper, and I saved both in a scrapbook. Maybe you remember seeing the picture in the newspaper.

But I hadn’t heard from nor had any contact with Brian Hill in 44 years. The card contained an email address, so I wrote, asking if he were the same Brian Hill from Burbank. A month went by, and finally he confirmed that he was the one and the same. Apparently we had many musical friends in common, especially since Brian had worked at Oxford University Press, a prominent music publisher. Since I had gone to graduate school on the East Coast, we had many of the same colleagues. It just so happened that I was in Southern California last Christmas and picked up a box of memorabilia from my mother’s house in Burbank. A copy of this photo was in the box so the timing of hearing from Brian was serendipitous, to say the least!

Then about a month ago, Brian sent me a copy of his mother’s obituary. I was very surprised and delighted to learn that his mother had been influential in church and civic affairs in Burbank — and that she had been an active member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. That was where I had my first church job at age fifteen!

Brian Hill

Brian Hill

Reading further, I learned that among her survivors was Brian’s brother, Eric Hill, founder and president of Honolulu Realty. That name was very familiar to us because Eric advertises his services on those divider rods you use in the checkout line at the local Safeway grocery store. And for years we had gotten promotional post cards from Honolulu Realty, with Eric’s name displayed prominently. Then I realized that OMG, Brian Hill’s brother lives in the same condominium that we do! Isn’t it amazing that two people from Burbank, CA would end up living in the same building?! Granted, both Hill brothers were Burroughs not Burbank High grads, and the building we live in has 437 apartments (and about 1000 people!) but I am in awe, just the same.

About Katherine Crosier

I am an organist in Honolulu—a rare breed of folks who play the King of Instruments! Through stories, photos, and videos, this blog is a diary of my musical journey ... and my family just groans!

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