Ross C. Hilton, Faculty

Ross Hilton
Ross Hilton working with student on an "A" project

Mr. Hilton's
Enduring Lesson

by Kent G. Jarvis, Class of 1960

The year was 1959. It was early in the fall term at Brigham Young High School, and I one of about sixty students in the senior class. I was sitting in a classroom in the Education Building, which had been built in 1891.

The bell rang -- it was time to change classes. My next class was Industrial Arts, more commonly known as "Shop." All of the boys took Shop in an old building to the south, and all of the girls took Home Economics in the Arts Building to the north.

My fellow classmates and I exited from the Education building and walked together across the lawn south of the school. The campus, surrounded by a forest of tall trees planted mostly in the late 1800s, was just over one city block in size. We had to cross a city street called 5th North to get to the ancient Industrial Arts building.

Aside from Geometry, Shop was my favorite class. The atmosphere was relaxed. We could choose from a variety of projects, and we had plenty of time to build several of them during the school term.

As we crossed the street, we could not help but notice a small new car parked nearby. It was an imported car, probably with a 3-cylinder two-cycle gas engine. This was the type of engine that required you to mix oil with the gasoline before putting it into the tank. We knew that the car belonged to Mr. Ross Hilton, our Shop teacher.

We milled around on the sidewalk in front of the Industrial Arts Building door, waiting for Mr. Hilton to open the door and let us into class.

I had known the mischievous boys in my class for about three years. We had worked hard, and as yet none of us had "bailed out" by switching to the public high school just a few blocks north up University Avenue. At Provo High, with many more students, there was much more freedom to goof off and get lost in the crowd -- or so we heard.

Don't get me wrong -- I was a quiet kid. I had already learned that if I was talking all the time, I was not hearing important things other people were telling me.

However, I was also among the "usual suspects" -- not above pulling a prank on someone, particularly when several of us were in on it. For example, "rotten egg" liquid had recently found its way into a certain classroom heating vent -- but that is another story.

As we stood there eying Mr. Hilton's car, a kid with a “bulldog” haircut and bulging muscles (not me -- I had a “ducktail” haircut and just regular muscles), suggested that we pick up the small car and move it up onto the sidewalk.

The “bulldog” and two or three “crew cuts” headed for the car to move it. I started to join them, but then I had second thoughts and stayed behind. I hated it when people got mad at me, and I did not want Mr. Hilton mad at me!

Working with a limited amount of time, the moving crew managed to get only one wheel up on the curb by the time they abandoned up the effort.

When Mr. Hilton arrived on the scene, he glanced at his skewampus car, then ushered us on into Shop class. To our surprise, Mr. Hilton did not appear to be even a little amused. However, everything progressed normally during the class.

The next time we came to shop class we noticed that Mr. Hilton's car was not parked in front of the building. Shortly after class started, Mr. Hilton asked the boys who had moved his car to come forward. He said that the suspension had been damaged, and as a result he had to pay a sizeable repair bill.

Of course, no one confessed, and it was impossible for him to determine who had moved the car. Each of us automatically said, “It wasn’t me!” This is the classic time-honored student answer, applicable to almost any type of goof up. I heard the same answer many times before and after this incident.

A teacher cannot really tell his students to “get lost” and arrange to teach some new ones, so Mr. Hilton informed us he had decided that no one in this class was going to get a passing grade.

All of us needed the credit for this class. We got together and attempted to “redeem” ourselves by doing extra good work. In addition, each of us contributed toward a Christmas present for Mr. Hilton, which we presented to him in a spirit of hopeful contrition. That ploy failed completely.

In spite of the fact that the remainder of our shop classes were friendly and fun, and we all received high grades on our individual projects, in the end all of us received very low term grades.

I myself had two project “A” grades and two project “B” grades -- but all term grades were much lower, barely passing. I am grateful today that Mr. Hilton demonstrated the kindness to allow us at least minimal passing grades.

This incident taught us valuable things about mischief, and honesty, and digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole.

Most importantly, Mr. Hilton taught me about forgiveness and about his benevolent character. He realized we were just kids, and we had not thought about the possibility of causing expensive damage to his car.

Was I upset at Mr. Hilton for lowering grades for the whole class? No. He showed us that we were also there to learn good behavior and self-discipline. He showed us how to become productive members of society -- not thoughtlessly destroy it.

I am personally still thankful that Mr. Hilton went beyond his class lesson plan to teach us something even more important. He showed me that a teacher has every right to make behavior, discipline and morality part of my grade.

This is the way it is in real life, I have found. Mr. Hilton and all of my other teachers, in one way or another, made it clear that Brigham Young High School was all about preparing us to be good citizens in the real world.

Ross Hilton, BYH Teacher
Ross Hilton, BYH Teacher

Ross Hilton, A Teacher Who Loved Life!

Ross Cropper Hilton was born on June 5, 1921 in Hinckley, Utah. His parents are Roy Parker Hilton and Fannie Lee Hilton. Ross married Valeda Swensen, also of Hinckley, in the Manti Temple on June 9, 1941.

Ross started his career in Radar School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then went to Mountain Home Air Base, Idaho as a civil service worker. He enlisted in the US Navy in World War II.

He obtained degrees from Brigham Young University and Utah State University. He taught Choral Music and Industrial Arts at Tooele High School, and at Brigham Young High School in Provo.

After receiving his Doctorate in Education, Ross worked as Chairman of the Industrial Arts Department at Southern Utah State College. Ross loved teaching and he taught for 33 years.

He also loved to sing and was a member of the Master Singers group. Active in the Boy Scouts, Ross received his Silver Beaver and Paramount Service Award. He was co-founder of the Thunder Ridge Boy Scout Camp, taught Wood Badge Courses and loved to portray Lord Baden Powell for the boys.

He loved hunting, fishing, lapidary, jewelry making, rock hunting, graphic arts and wood working. He was an avid gardener, along with his wife. Ross was member of the Cedar City, Utah, 8th Ward.

He passed away peacefully on April 20, 2012 in Cedar City, Utah. He was almost 91 years old. He was admired by the community for the service that he rendered, not only to Southern Utah University, to the LDS Church, and to the Boy Scouts. Next to family and Church came his love for the Boy Scouts.

Ross is survived by Valeda, his high school sweetheart, best friend and eternal companion of almost 71 years, son-in-law Verd Singleton of Benjamin, son Glen (Cathy) Hilton of Las Vegas, Raymond (Julie) Hilton of Bountiful, Jeanette (Cal) of Las Vegas, 20 grandchildren, 57 great-grandchildren, and 6 great-great grandchildren, sisters Ione Hilton Christensen (Jim) and Lula Marie Hilton Henricksen.

Ross was preceded in death by his parents, Roy Parker Hilton and Fannie Lee Hilton, brothers Harlan Hilton and Lawrence Hilton, and daughter Rosalee Hilton Singleton [BYH Class of 1960].

Ross and Valeda Hilton, June 8, 2011 Anniversary
Ross C. Hilton and Valeda S. Hilton celebrated their 70th Anniversary on June 9, 2011. They were married in the Manti LDS Temple June 9, 1941. They were honored at an open house on June 11, 2011 in Cedar City, Utah.
Iron County Today, June 8, 2011

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