Let’s face it: on an average day my top collar is unbuttoned, my tie is loose, my shirt can always use a good ironing. Carolyn Hill, meanwhile, was dripping with class. She never looked down her nose at me, even though she could have. She was always ready for warm embrace and happy greeting. She loved Oklahoma City and her mere presence was inspiring.
Hill was at the top of her game in NYC when in the early 1990s she came back to her hometown to care for her aging mom.
She was at an age where she could have retired. But instead, she took on what I consider to be the masterpiece of her life by taking the reins of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and leading it to greatness.
Hill, of course, would dismiss such talk. She’d give the credit to her board, to the museum’s backers, including the Kirkpatrick family. And of course they too did a lot of lifting. But have no doubt – Hill leaves behind an incredible legacy. She gave our city a museum we can be proud of – one that I enjoy taking my son to at least once every three to four months.
Hill was accessible to everybody. She loved seeing kids come through the museum’s entrance, and while she was a demanding perfectionist, there was no condescension with Carolyn, no attitude that she was somehow better than everybody else. She accomplished so much in her life, and yet she didn’t brag or try to bring attention to her record. She had to be pushed to tell her own story.
Carolyn died late Wednesday night. And the overcast skies above reflect the colors I see today – a world that’s just a bit less vibrant without Carolyn to bring it to life. God, you’ve got some great artists up there – now you’re about to get one incredible curator.