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Albert Hill

ARRIVED   October 10, 1940
DEPARTED   June 26, 2022


  • I worked with Al, as his assistant, for about a year and a half when he was the botanist for UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in the early ’70s. I just stumbled upon the sad news of his passing after doing a Google search inspired by reading a story about a pipe-organ restoration that I thought of sharing with him, knowing it had been one of his many interests.

    Al’s knowledge of plants was amazing, and it was a pleasure working for him. Although I did not remain in the botanical field, the things I learned have stayed with me and I am grateful to have know him.

  • I met Al only a couple of times and each time our conversation lasted no more than 20 minutes.
    He left a deep impression with me. I felt I had a connection with him because I love animals and nature as he did.
    He was gentle and modest. RIP Al, you are at a better place now.

  • Joe Balestreri writes:
    Al really didn’t want to leave his beloved Russian River where he’d been a fixture for decades. Al earned his masters degree in Botany at UCLA. He was Senior Botanist at the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden in about 1971. Coincidentally his fellow Senior Botanist there was Fred Oettinger, another Billy.

    Al and his sisters went out to dinner and had a lovely evening. Some time after that Al fell and got a head injury. Al died very quickly without a long period of illness.He moved to Valley Center, San Diego County reluctantly in October 2021 to be near to his sisters as it got harder for him to live independently.

    For those Billys with an interest in native plants, Al wrote the monograph for the Tiburon Mariposa Lily Z (Calocortus Tiburonensis A.J. Hill) This exquisitely strange lily is found only on Ring Mountain just north of Tiburon in Marin Co. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calochortus_tiburonensis https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/47865769

    Al was something of an electronic wizard, doing early work in computer programing. He developed a laser light show that played for years at a San Francisco nightclub. He had his own print shop and possibly a pipe organ business – all in the East Bay His passions included raising exotic insects, reptiles and amphibians. He also bred new slipper orchid varieties, having a mist house in the bay window of his living room.Al was a regular at Sonomen potlucks and attended several Billy gatherings over the years. More than once he shared his passion with the Billys, bringing the most beautiful South American butterflies to share.He could be considered eccentric and opinionated and felt safe sharing with the Billys. I remember one potluck at our home when Al came in with a cooler -not with a potluck dish but full of crickets to feed his menagerie back home. He was afraid they’d cook in his car and insisted in storing them under the food table.Dear Al, thank you for your all contributions to our community over the decades. Maybe, just maybe you are exploring the Amazon with newly grown butterfly wings.Joe Balestreri


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