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Mary Hill

August 14, 2019


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Mary Ivalyn Carter Bowden Hill of Dowling Park, Florida, after a lifetime dedicated to service to others, passed away on August 14, 2019. She was born in Waycross, Georgia, on March 6, 1932, daughter of the late Ivy and Mary (Strickland) Carter. She is survived by her five children – Mary Ricketson, Marsha Buckley, Michele (Jim) Haptonstahl, Michael Bowden, and Melinda (Jeff) Selke, plus ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers Edward Carter and Tommy Carter, and an extended family of cousins, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and innumerable others for whom she was like family. She was preceded in death by seven Carter brothers – Avant, Sylvanis, Arliss, Felice, Buford, Wylie, and Curtis – and her stepmother Vera (Lewis) Carter. Mary, or “Ivalyn” as many called her, was born in the Great Depression. At age five she endured the passing of her mother, an event that contributed to her life-long empathy for others. She also learned quickly the value of hard work. She helped to manage her father’s general store, then worked through high school at the famous Ware Hotel in downtown Waycross and the Bell Telephone Company switchboard, and had a summer stint rolling the final wrapping onto King Edward cigars. In earlier years she spent many a summer enjoying Camp Suwannee at Advent Christian Village in Dowling Park on the banks of the Suwannee River. After early high school graduation, Mary ventured north to Aurora College, an Advent Christian school of higher learning in Aurora, Illinois. Marriage and a flurry of children interrupted college until she moved with her Bowden Family to Peoria, Illinois, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Sociology at Bradley University in 1971 – while at the same time working and raising five beautiful children. With her deep, abiding Christian faith and a wealth of compassion to match, Mary began her professional life in the service of others in need, teaching homemaking and money-management skills to young mothers in Peoria’s Urban Living Renewal Project. Eventually she found her true calling in the care and support of senior citizens, joining the Illinois Department on Aging. With her intelligence, creativity, and well-grounded work ethic, she rose through the ranks, becoming the Chief of the Bureau of Field Operations for the Department’s Division of Long-Term Care. In 1979 Mary experienced her crowning achievement, developing and helping to establish the Illinois Department on Aging’s Community Care Program to help senior citizens, who might otherwise need nursing home care, to remain in their own homes by providing in-home and community-based services. She was successful in promoting to Illinois officials the benefits of this innovative program. She then oversaw its implementation and nurtured this initiative, which to this day assists seniors in maintaining their independence, while it provides cost effective alternatives to nursing home placement. For several decades Mary traveled across Illinois to train senior center staff on Community Care Program implementation and management, and to help agencies overcome the challenges of providing high-quality care to the elderly. She often boasted that she knew “all the pig-trails in Illinois” – and no one could dispute her! She was beloved among provider organizations and homecare aides for her tenacity in advocating with state officials for proper funding and other resources. Upon her retirement, the Illinois Association of Community Care Program Homecare Providers chose to recognize Mary with the naming of the Mary I. Hill Award. For each of the past 20 years, Community Care Program Homecare Aide awardees have gathered in Springfield, Illinois, the state’s capital, to be honored for their dedicated, compassionate, diligent work on behalf of seniors. This award is a remarkable testament to Mary, her legacy, and this vital program, which lives on to serve ever-more seniors in need. In her retirement Mary chose to leave her residence in Springfield and return to her roots, setting up a lovely home of her own design at Advent Christian Village in Dowling Park, Florida. She enjoyed the palmettos and pines, but was most enthralled with the melodious song of the cardinal and its brilliant red feathers as it dined at the bird-feeder. As was her wont, she kept busy, volunteering for several years as manager of the Twice Nice resale shop in the Village Commons, helping to generate proceeds in support of the Advent Christian Village Benevolent Fund. She enjoyed reading, cultivating her wondrous backyard garden, actively participating in the church community, taking advantage of hydro-therapy at the Village’s Copland Center, chasing sunsets, cooking southern specialties like biscuits and gravy, and traveling Florida coastlines and the world. She tended to others, visiting and comforting seniors in the manner of her career path. One of her favorite songs reflected her outlook in life: “I Just Love Old People”. Mary brightened up most when her family made the trek to her warm, welcoming home, celebrating holidays, birthdays, and just being together, so she could give her loved ones “some sugar”. Her family will remember her most for her generosity and endearing love, and for being a strong woman who overcame early life challenges to become an accomplished professional who cared for others regardless of race, color, creed, gender, station in life…or age. Per Mary’s wishes, a service celebrating her life with burial of her ashes next to her father’s and mother’s graves will take place on a date to be determined, at the Mars Hill Church Cemetery in Hoboken, Georgia.
A Memorial Service will be held at the Advent Christian Village Church in Dowling Park, Florida on Saturday, August 17, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Mary I. Hill can be directed to the International Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva Association (IFOPA), to honor Mary’s great granddaughter Raina Halford who has FOP and to fund research to find a cure for FOP, at Or donations can be made in Mary’s memory to the Advent Christian Village Benevolent Fund, PO Box 4305, Dowling Park, FL 32064,