Derek Robert Hill

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We are saddened to announce that Derek Hill passed following a lengthy struggle with Parkinson’s disease at the Saskatoon Convalescent Home, where he had resided for the past few years.  In the words of his youngest granddaughter “Heaven has gained such a special angel.”


Derek was predeceased by: his first wife, Grace (nee Schnell); his son, Bruce Hill; his parents, Ethel and Douglas Hill; and his sister, Betty Tydeman (nee Hill).  Left to remember Derek’s life are: his wife, Helen (nee Gessler); Derek’s children, Anne Hill (Jim Watts), Pamela (Rod) Thiessen and Ian (Jennifer) Hill; Helen’s children, Gene (Vicky) Rheaume, Steve (Cathy) Rheaume, Ross (Althea) Rheaume, Dave (Siobhan) Rheaume, Jocelyn Rheaume (Jim Gillissie) and Mark (Kelly) Rheaume; and many greatly loved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Born in Rosetown, SK., Derek’s family moved to Saskatoon when he was 12 years old.  He attended Victoria Elementary School and then Nutana Collegiate.  Derek graduated from the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) with Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts degrees; and earned Masters of Education and Doctorate of Education degrees from the University of Oregon (Eugene) with majors in curriculum and supervision.

Derek joined the staff of the Saskatoon Public Board of Education in 1957.  He worked as an elementary school teacher, vice-principal, and principal and served on many school system committees.  He was President of the Principals’ Professional Association (1967-68).  In 1974, Derek was appointed Assistant Superintendent-Elementary, and Superintendent of Support Services in 1984.  Derek provided leadership in many curriculum, program and resource development projects.  In 1985, Derek received the Professional Development Award for his involvement with the American Association of the School Administrators/National Academy of School Executives.  Derek retired from the school board in 1988 and continued his professional education career serving as the Director of Curriculum Branch, Saskatchewan Department of Education.   


Derek began his community service development in the Cubs and Boy Scouts movements, attaining a King’s Scout level and receiving the highest award for Outdoor Skills.  Derek’s commitment to service and community continued in his adulthood.  Derek became involved with Meewasin Valley Authority including the Education Advisory Committee, the Board of the Meewasin Foundation, the Planned Giving Program, and the Wanuskewin Heritage Park Authority.  Derek also served on the Advisory Committee of the Western Development Museum.  Derek joined the Nutana Kiwanis Club in 1990 and was a very active member (until the Club disbanded) frequently presenting at Kiwanis conferences and conventions.  He served on, and chaired, many committees particularly focused on youth services, and was President in 1994-95.  Derek was honoured with the Kiwanian Mel Osborne Fellowship in 1997 and Kiwanian of the Year award in 2001.


Derek was a very active member of St. Martin's United Church serving as Chairman of the Official Board and on many church committees.

Derek's main hobbies were carpentry and woodworking: made major renovations to his home; built worship items for the church; made many pieces of furniture; supported building and repair projects at his childrens’ homes; and even created a set of yearly Christmas ornaments for each of his childrens’ families.  He was a perfectionist in his craft.


Derek enjoyed travelling which allowed him to pursue his interest in photography.  Through summertime work with Rocky Mountain Tour Company in Banff and Lake Louise, he developed a love of the mountains and later hiking became a family holiday.  In later years, he travelled throughout Canada and the USA and ventured to Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.


Derek will always be remembered by his family and friends as a gentle, kind and compassionate person – a true gentleman.  He was a mentor and a role model for so many.  He had an amazing wit and the gift of hospitality.  He was respected by his students, education colleagues and community service members as an intelligent person, an exceptional diplomat, a caring educator, a consummate professional, an exemplary administrator, a knowledgeable leader.

The family shares sincere thanks and much gratitude to all of the outstanding staff at the Saskatoon Convalescent Home for their warm, compassionate and expert care during Derek’s stay.

An intimate family funeral service will take place on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at Saskatoon Funeral Home in keeping with Covid protocols.  The service will be live streamed and all are invited to view and participate by accessing the link here on Derek’s Tribute page that will be posted April 28.  Live streaming will begin at 10:30 a.m.


A celebration of life will be held when it is safe for family and friends to gather together to share special stories and memories.  In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Saskatoon Cancer Society or the Saskatoon Convalescent Home.