Hatler Hilton Smith, 87, of Cornelia, GA, died of this life on Sunday, November 21, 2021.
Born in LaFollette, Tennessee, on April 4, 1934, he was the son of the late Hatler Payne Smith and Mildred Hilton Smith. Hilton graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 1956; and received his Masters of Education from Emory in 1960. Hilton received his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University in 1984.
He served as an intelligence officer in the US Air Force with the 78th Tactical Fighter Squadron (and Hilton always said if he told us more, he should shoot us).
Hilton was a career educator, starting as a high school history teacher in Atlanta. He soon gave on-the-job demonstrations on how to conduct history simulations to teachers in the Atlanta area. Always at the forefront of educational ideas and trends with a strong focus on student empowerment, Hilton has been instrumental in the development of the Downtown Learning Center, an alternative high school program with an emphasis on learning based on investigation for at-risk youth. This experience was excellent preparation for the job that most encompassed his passion for teaching and learning: his years of involvement with Foxfire. He led the Foxfire Teacher Program which led to the formation of Foxfire Teacher Network groups in many states as well as overseas. He continued to teach the Foxfire Approach to prospective teachers as part of his work at Piedmont College where he taught numerous courses and served as President of Secondary Education for a number of years. His retirement in 2019 concluded 60 years of education. It was Hilton’s firm belief that it was only through educated citizens that our democracy would continue to grow and flourish.
No Hilton Smith obituary would be complete without mentioning his love for music. He was a jazz enthusiast who played both bass and trumpet in his youth. He often remembered his days as a member of the “Singers and Swingers”. His album collection is a testament to his long-standing love for music, especially jazz.
Hilton is survived by his wife, Sara Alice Tucker, his son, Mark Hilton Smith and his wife, Gina Schmidt Smith of Alpharetta; daughter, Deidre Ann deLaughter of Athens; son, Bertrand Howard Smith and wife, Kymberly Smith of Helen; stepson, Jason Shane Rodgers and wife, Ji Hye Rodgers of Seoul, South Korea; stepson, Michael Blair Rodgers and wife, Danielle Rodgers of Denver, Colorado; and her stepdaughter, Jennifer Quillin Stille and her husband, Jeremy Stille of Cornelia.
Hilton and Sara are fortunate to have sixteen grandchildren:
Anthony Smith, Lauren Kilbourn, Emily Kilbourn Scott, Charlotte Kilbourn Jordan, Anna Marie Smith, Charles Hilton Smith, Emma Grace Smith, Mary Shannon Smith, Emerson Hilton Rodgers, Oliver William Rodgers, Elliott Hudson Rodgers, Owen Thomas Rodgers, Eleanor Holland Rodgers, Sawyer Charles Stille, Sutton Ryan Stille and great-granddaughter, Bailey Allen Smith.
At the request of Hilton, “a friendly gathering of family, friends and former students” will be held on Sunday November 28, 2021 at the house from 2 pm to 5 pm. Please honor Hilton’s dedication to health and longevity by following all social distancing guidelines for the prevention of Covid 19. For those who cannot attend on Sunday, there will be another celebration of the life of Hilton around. of his birthday in the spring.
For those who wish to contribute to the memory of Hilton, please donate to the Foxfire Fund: https://www.Foxfire.Org, Donate | Foxfire, or PO Box 541, Mountain City, Georgia 30562 USA
An online guest register is available for the Smith family at www.HillsideMemorialChapel.com.
Arrangements by Hillside Memorial Chapel, Clarkesville, Georgia. (706) 754-6256