John E Hillert was born November 30, 1950, in Granton, Wisconsin, to Martin & Marie (Hales) Hillert. He was the third of four brothers.
John attended and graduated K-12 school in Granton before heading to Stevens Point, Wisconsin, for college.
In 1972, he graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, and he received his Masters Degree in Housing Administration from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, which is where he met his wife, Gayle Spearman. The two were married on August 18, 1973, in Granton, WI. They briefly moved to Moorhead, Minnesota before settling in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where John worked for Sentry Insurance in Human Resources for 28 years until retiring in 2006, at which time he and Gayle moved to Clifton Forge, Virginia.
John was passionate about cooking, the arts, and charitable and economic efforts to improve his community. During his time in Stevens Point, he was an active member of the Optimist Club, and served on the board of the American Suzuki Foundation. After moving to Clifton Forge, he became an active participant in community economic revitalization efforts sharing ideas with humor and energy, dedication to the community and its future and leaving a long-range impact. Among his contributions is his involvement in the grand reopening of the beautifully renovated Historic Masonic Theatre after six years of championing this project.
The Theatre officially re-opened to massive acclaim on July 1, 2016. He also was directly involved in the partnership with the Virginia Tech design/build Lab to build the Masonic Amphitheatre which opened in 2012. In addition he served on the Alleghany County Planning Commission as well as the Comprehensive Planning Committee for the Town of Clifton Forge and the Dabney S Lancaster Community College Education Foundation, was an active volunteer in Vision 2025 Corridor Curb Appeal and helped implement Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day & C&O Railway Festival, an event that the community now enjoys annually. He was an active member of the Covington-Bath County Rotary Club, receiving the highest honor a Rotarian can receive - the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
John was honored with a proclamation from the Town of Clifton Forge Council to name Saturday, April 29, 2017 John E Hillert Day complete with keys to the Town.
John passed away in his home on May 18, surrounded by loved ones, after a valiant battle with non-smokers lung cancer.
He is survived by his wife Gayle, his children Jon Ethan and Jennifer Erin (Christopher), his three brothers David (Carol), Don, and Martin (June), and many cousins, nieces and nephews and in-laws.
John’s family wishes to thank the Alleghany Highlands Community, and his Wisconsin family, friends and colleagues for their steadfast support.
His family will be planning a Celebration of Life on July 1 at The Historic Masonic Theatre and asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Historic Masonic Theatre in Clifton Forge, VA, or Mountain Regional Hospice.
Nicely Funeral Home, Clifton Forge is handling arrangements.
To send condolences to the family online, please visitwww.nicelyfuneralhome.com.