The room at the McGruder center was filled with a diverse group on the night of February 27 to honor Bobby and Helen Hill.
Each year 2nd Chances chooses someone from the ‘recovery’ community that has made a significant difference in the lives of individuals. Bobby Hill and his wife, Helen, were honored with a variety of tributes, entertainment and words of ‘thanks’ from family, friends and others from the community.
“If every person that Bobby has touched directly were here, they couldn’t fit in this room,” said guest Johnnie Fox. “And, if you put everyone that Bobby has touched indirectly, you couldn’t fit them in the state of Tennessee.”
Messages of friendship resonated throughout the night.
“I’m glad to call him friend,” said Najee Allen.
“He gave me hope and inspiration,” said Corky Swift. “If it had not been for him, I would’ve died.”
“You gave me hope, inspiration, and guidance,” said Tony Brown.
“In the many car rides with Bobbie, I learned more than a lifetime,” said Fox. “He is God sent.
“He encouraged me to come to Nashville and join the police department,” said Chief Steve Anderson.
Bobbie’s wife, Helen, was honored with the same accolades. Many thanked her for her support and kindness over the years.
Helen Hill has been referred to as ‘The Lena Horne of Nashville,’ with an inner love and beauty just as striking as her exterior loveliness.”
She started her career with Metro Davidson County in 1965 when she made history becoming the first African American to become a ‘Meter Maid’ (currently known as Meter Patrols). She remained with Metro for nearly 36 years. Following her retirement, she has been devoted to her beloved family and community. Helen’s ‘second home’ is the Elizabeth Park Senior Center, which is a favorite hangout where she volunteers daily. She spends countless hours sharing her time and talent with others wherever needed—preparing meals, assisting dancers, running errands, cleaning, etc.
Bobby Hill gained national recognition in 1964 when he was fired or “forced to resign,” from the Metro police department. He went underground to infiltrate the illegal drug network in Tennessee and rejoined the force after successfully breaking up illegal narcotics trafficking of that era. The ‘firing’ was a cover-up. He soon thereafter made his way through the ranks. He was promoted to sergeant in 1964, then lieutenant in 1967 and ultimately to captain in 1972, making him the top ranking Black officer on the force at that time.
Being raised in Sparta, Tenn., he was an outstanding athlete in high school and travelled to Nashville in 1953. He joined the police force in 1959. During his tenure at the police department, he served as commander of the intelligence division, planning and research, as personnel commander, special liaison to the mayor’s office during the tenure of Mayor Beverly Briley, commander of the Communication Division, and commander of the Inspection Division.
Following his undercover stint, he appeared on national television’s To Tell The Truth and was a feature of the cover story in True Police Cases in 1964.
He also spent most of his off-duty time counseling persons with drug and alcohol abuse problems.
Bobbie and Helen Hill have been married for 47 years. Tyrone Hill, Thea W. Copeland and Ladonna F. Copeland are their children.
Other participants on the program were entertainers Glenn Carter of Carter’s Florist, who played the trumpet; Carlos Bailey; Elizabeth Park Swinging Seniors; Metro Parks Senior High Steppers; and ‘The Spoon Man’ Lucius Talley; host, Tawanda Murphy; presenters, State Rep. Brenda Gilmore and Melvin Black; and a presentation from Pearl High School Alumni, and others.