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Regent College Mourns the Loss of Dr. Phil Hill

March 21, 2016
"Phil Hill was an exemplary Christian gentleman. We will miss his truly rare combination of kindness and curiosity, brilliance and humility, gentleness and generosity, fidelity and warmth." (President Jeff Greenman)

Regent College mourns the loss of Dr. Phil Hill, who passed away on February 17, 2016. Dr. Hill was a world-class scholar of mechanical engineering who taught for many years at the University of British Columbia. His expertise in energy and propulsion, and pioneering work in developing natural gas vehicles, won him many prizes and awards. He was a founder of Westport Innovations, a firm where he worked until very shortly before his death.

Dr. Hill and his late wife, Marguerite, were deeply involved in the life and ministry of Regent College for decades. They generously shared their time and resources to strengthen the College’s work. After their move to Vancouver in 1976, hundreds of Regent students enjoyed meals, accommodations, welcome, and encouragement in their home.

Dr. Hill served on Regent’s Board of Governors from 1978-1981 and from 1999-2006, and was a member of the presidential search committee that brought Dr. Rod Wilson to be Regent’s fourth president. He also served on Regent’s Senate from 1977-78 and from 1997-2006.

Earl Phillips, a former Chair of Regent’s Board, paid the following tribute to Dr. Hill: “Phil was modestly brilliant, empathetic, a great listener, and a consistent encourager. He had a quiet strength that gave everyone working with him a sense of security and soundness. With Phil gently asking important questions and then working constructively with the answers, we could proceed in confidence.”

Regent’s founding principal, Dr. James Houston, offered a eulogy at Dr. Hill’s memorial service in which he reflected on their longstanding friendship. Recalling their joint participation in a weekly Bible study, Dr. Houston commented, “As we commuted weekly in his old car — expressive of his humility and frugality — on Wednesday mornings for our Prayer Breakfast group of friends, he was always eager to talk on both science and faith. Several in our group are mechanical engineers, with whom he loved to engage; others like me are not, but it made no difference. For within himself, he saw no difference in his life from being recognized internationally as an outstanding scientist, as a loving husband and father, and as a friend…most of all, he was a deeply trusting man of faith.”

Dr. Houston continued: “Publicly, he lived as he thought, that both the rigorous pursuit of science, and the depth of trusting in the friendship of God, were wholly compatible. For Phil, the intelligibility of the cosmos was matched by the love of its Creator in his own inter-connectedness with all reality.” Dr. Houston concluded the eulogy by commending his friend as a “master of science, mastered by the love of Christ.”

Dr. Hill was a frequent participant in Regent events and activities and an enthusiastic champion of Regent’s contributions to student lives. As President Jeff Greenman noted, “Phil Hill was an exemplary Christian gentleman. We will miss his truly rare combination of kindness and curiosity, brilliance and humility, gentleness and generosity, fidelity and warmth. Somehow blended together with his love for God, his church, and his family was a deep-seated and persistent love for Regent’s mission and people.”

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