Aug 24, 2023
Kendall Hill, North Carolina sweet potato leader, dies

Robert Kendall Hill, a North Carolina sweet potato and vegetable leader, has died. He was 83.

Hill, who died Aug. 21, was co-owner of Kinston, North Carolina-based Tull Hill Farms, which grows sweet potatoes, lettuce and other crops.

Kendall Hill

Hill is survived by his son, Rob Hill, and three daughters, five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, brother Jimmy Hill, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Kendall Hill’s wife of 40 years, Patricia Massey Hill, a grandson and a brother preceded him in death.

Visitation is scheduled for Aug. 26 at Howard-Carter Funeral Home, 1608 West Vernon Avenue, Kinston NC. A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Aug. 27 at Sharon United Methodist Church, 4106 Sharon Church Road, Kinston. A private burial is planned.

Hill was a founder of the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association and was in its hall of fame. He served six terms on the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission board, including four terms as president, and was the state’s representative to the U.S. Sweet Potato Council.

Hill was past president of the North Carolina Agricultural Business Council, was on the executive committee of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation and the North Carolina Agricultural and Life Sciences Research Foundation. He was also a past member of the North Carolina Extension Services Foundation.

In 1957, Hill graduated from high school in Kinston and graduated in 1962 from North Carolina State University (NCSU) with a Bachelor of Science in horticulture.

Agriculture was a passion for Hill, who “always believed that agricultural innovation was the key to every farmer’s future,” according to an obituary.

At NCSU, sweet potatoes captured his interest. Hill’s fascination with sweet potatoes led to a lifetime of supporting research. NCSU research included initiating and supporting a sweet potato micropropagation program. Hill was also instrumental in creating the college’s Specialty Crops Program. He was chairman of NCSU fundraising efforts which secured $1.3 million for the Henry Covington Endowment which funded sweet potato industry research.

The 4,500 acre farming operation on the eastern part of North Carolina was characterized by NCSU as a progressive and diversified operation.

Kendall Hill’s father, Tull Hill, incorporated the farm which was also run by Rob Hill and his nephew Michael Hill. Kendall’s brother, Jimmy Hill, is president and chief operating officer of the farm which also grows tobacco, cotton and soybeans.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sharon United Methodist Church at 4106 Sharon Church Road, Kinston, NC.

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