Adam Hill: The Jersey Whirlwind

Aaron Ochs
8 min readAug 8, 2020

SLO County District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill passed away on August 6 at the age of 54.

Hill, who endured a lifelong battle of depression, was an exuberant, compassionate, combative, pugnacious whirlwind from New Jersey. He was undoubtedly an iconoclast who reveled in spontaneity, academia, rigorous debate and social justice. Hill was undoubtedly a flawed man, but he was candid about his flaws in ways that helped others accept the flaws within themselves. He used his position as county supervisor and a mental health advocate to help reignite a conversation about mental health struggles.

Before he became county supervisor, Hill taught literature and writing at Cal Poly for 13 years. He was a young, passionate and deeply intelligent teacher who loved to connect with his students and introduce them to new authors and ideas at every opportunity. Over the years, Hill kept in touch with many of his students and mentored them. To his students, he was more than a teacher. He was a friend who wanted nothing more than to see them grow and evolve beyond his wildest expectations.

Not bad for a Jersey boy, who worked his way through undergraduate and graduate schools. Hill received a B.A. in Government from the University of Maryland, his M.A. in English from Fresno State, and his M.F.A. in Writing from Louisiana State University. Then he moved to SLO County in 1995 and never looked back.

Hill was also a tireless advocate for the homeless. Known for his work at the SLO County Food Bank and securing much-needed funding for our county’s homeless services, Hill dedicated his time to serving a community that residents don’t actively think about or react favorably to. Hill never forgot about them partly because he recognized the distinct parallels between the mental health struggles they faced and his own. He would see past their difficulties and spend time nurturing a deep, empathetic connection with them.

When I interacted with Hill, I made sure to extend the same courtesy to him. Early on, we’d get into some digital skirmishes. He sometimes wouldn’t like what I wrote about him or his policy positions. Once in a while, he would even lash out, but it didn’t faze me. I recognized his worth and his heart. I would be lying to you if I said it wasn’t difficult to develop a trusting…

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Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.