In Memorium: Bob Hillier
The Community Papers of Florida (CPF) has lost a friend in Panama City.

Robert "Bob" Hillier died January 21. He had been fighting the effects of a stroke for over a year, then suffered a massive heart attack. He was 67.

Bob was the co-founder and co-publisher of The Advertiser in Panama City, as well as a long-time supporter of CPF and the Southeastern Advertising Publishers Association (SAPA).

The co-founder in his publishing venture, wife Rhonda, served as a member of the board of directors of both associations, as well as a two-year term as president of CPF.

Bob started his publishing career in West Palm Beach as publisher and 49% owner of Show & Tell in that area. He moved from that ownership to start The Advertiser in Panama City.

He was a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Florida while in his youth.

An avid outdoorsman, Bob was a deer hunter. He loved to fish (we are told he may have caught three fish during his life) and loved to fix things. Cars, computers - you name it, Bob could take it apart and put it back together again.

His family and friends said that there wasn't a deer he couldn't track, a computer he couldn't fix, or a friend he couldn't make.

This writer had many opportunities to meet with Bob in Panama City. He was always working on a project and always had a smile. His sense of humor left a lasting memory of a person who truly liked people. As a small town publisher he handled the auto accounts,composed ads, took care of the delivery of The Advertiser, and fixed what was broken.

As a novice to the computer world and the Internet, I soon developed a theory: When in trouble, call Bob or former CPF President J.W. Owens for help. I survived thanks to Bob's ability to actually explain the theory of a computer so that I understood.

Bob was active at the association's meetings. He always took part in the activities, including the three minute idea fair - and he always concluded, "Vote for Bob."

Several years back Bob was nicknamed "The Hammer." He received ink in the local publications when outside his office, a 17-year-old youth attempted to force his way into the car of an employee and her child. The child ran into the office yelling. Bob grabbed a hammer and chased the vandal down the street. The police soon took over and the arrest was made. The hammer was buried with Bob.

Bob loved children. The family has asked that donations be made in his name to King's Kids Ministries, P.O. Box 10008, Panama City, FL 32404.

He is survived by Rhonda, sister Toni McGarvey, sons Tom and Michael Hillier, daughters Lisa Ragali and Tina Cebollero, grandchildren Joey and Josh Ragali and Michael Hillier.

Throughout this ordeal, Rhonda has held her head high and shown extraordinary courage. While Bob worked on recovering from his stroke, the twin burdens of caring for him and running their publication fell to her. I credit the small staff of The Advertiser for hanging in there with them through the hardships, for doing what was necessary to produce the publication during that time, and for truly caring for its founders.

I will "Vote for Bob" for being a person who cared about others, who always spoke what was on his mind, and for his great sense of humor. He was one of a kind. He loved life and we will miss him.

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