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Hominy Valley hero leaves behind a legacy

Chet Hill passed away just a few days ago at 75, but his legacy provides a blueprint for touching the lives of others. (Photo credit: Buncombe County Schools)

News 13's Person of the Week has been a fixture for generations of kids in Hominy Valley.

Sadly, Chet Hill passed away just a few days ago at 75, but his legacy provides a blueprint for touching the lives of others.

In South Hominy, Chet's stature is as tall as Mt. Pisgah. It's ironic that a man larger than life stayed hidden in plain sight.

"A giant's the only way to describe him," Bethany Robinson said of the man.

Robinson is a former student of Pisgah Elementary School, who's now a computer lab assistant.

"He was always in the background making these huge waves," Bethany said as she thumbed through old yearbooks.

Chet's son, Danny, provided a multifaceted image of Mr. Hill's impact.

"He could teach you without knowing you were being taught," Danny said.

Co-workers said he could be both tender and tough.

"He had a presence about him. You did not interrupt his class," said assistant teacher Jennie Lynn Krichbaum, who worked with the legend. "He had high expectations."

Chet taught and coached basketball at Pisgah and later moved on to Enka Middle School before retiring after 30 years in the mid '90s.

"I don't know of anyone who has touched more lives," Danny said of his father.

Just eight weeks ago he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. To some, it was unfathomable how quickly the disease took his life. Chet died Tuesday, May 16, 2017. He's now posthumously honored as Person of the Week.

"He would have loved it, but he would be embarrassed by it because it's not about him," Danny said.

Chet even wrote a history of schools in the Pisgah district with lifelong friend Ken Israel.

"For him, history wasn't about facts and figures and places. It was people," Danny said.

Now, he goes down in history as a hero of Hominy Valley.

In classroom number 9, students like Bethany were always number one.

"We learned math here, we learned history, but we learned life here," she recalled as she walked into the classroom.

Bethany posted a picture of a classroom wreath she made not long before Chet passed away. He touched it up with an outline of Mt. Pisgah.

It's just one more reason Hill's revered as a mountain of a man.

"I don't know of anybody in this community that knows Chet who will look at Pisgah and not think of him again," Bethany said.

Chet Hill's funeral is set for 7 p.m. Monday at Trinity Baptist Church in West Asheville.

Chet Hill's book about the history of Hominy Valley Schools

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