The campus community mourns the passing of Mary Hill, who died on Tuesday, April 5. Mary retired as professor emerita of history and women’s studies in 2001 after 28 years of service to Bucknell. Mary’s spouse, John Anderson, is also a retired faculty member.
A strong feminist scholar and cherished mentor to other women on campus, Mary created the space for the women faculty who followed her to securely take their places in the academy. Colleagues remembered her fondly as a strong proponent of second-wave feminism in her research, teaching and service. She was warm and welcoming, acted as a role model, and was a fearless critic of sexism and misogyny in the workplace. She was Bucknell’s first professor of women’s studies, and her appointment to the position paved the way for what is now the Department of Women’s & Gender Studies. Mary started teaching about women and researching Charlotte Perkins Gilman when women’s history was just beginning to be taken seriously and when there were few women on the Bucknell faculty. She was a “foremother” in her discipline and for the women faculty across the University.
Included below is the complete text of the obituary, as provided by the family.
I encourage you to visit our In Memoriam site to share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.
On behalf of our entire University community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Mary’s family, as well as to all who knew her at Bucknell.
John C. Bravman
Mary Armfield Hill, 82, of Asheville, North Carolina passed away after an extended illness on April 5, 2022.
Born Sept. 7, 1939, in Fayetteville, NC, Mary A., as she liked to be called, was the third child of Thomas E. and Sara A. Hill. She attended Northrop Collegiate School in Minneapolis, where her mother taught physics and calculus, and spent her youthful summers among the mountains of Montreat, NC, where she delighted in rock hopping, hiking, and raucous square dancing.
After receiving her BA from Oberlin College and PhD from McGill University, she taught history and women’s studies for 25 years at Bucknell University, where she served as department chair and was named Presidential Professor of History in recognition of her inspired teaching and pathbreaking scholarship on the life and writings of the early American feminist reformer and novelist Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Throughout her career as a teacher, she remained a lifelong student, finding inspiration of her own in the writings of Carl Jung, Mary Oliver, and Thich Nhat Hanh and the cultivation of considerable artistic talents in painting and pottery. While she excelled in the often solitary work of a scholar, she devoted herself at the same time to deep friendships and sustaining communities. A free spirit with a strong bend towards social justice, she will be remembered also as a devotee of Mother Nature’s bounty, poetry, and the power of dreams, and one who, gathering up life’s evanescent joys like so many spring blossoms and arranging them with artful care, shared her bouquets with those around her.
Mary A. is remembered with love by her husband, John Anderson of Asheville; her children, Noelle Parker of Bellevue, Wash, and David Porter of Ann Arbor, Mich.; her siblings, Sara Hill of Black Mountain, Thomas Hill of Chapel Hill; and five grandchildren, Austin, Kelsey, and Dylan Parker and Nathaniel and Nicholas Porter.
A Celebration of Life ceremony will be held in the Asheville area for family and friends at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org.