DALLAS -- Former Dallas Councilman Don Hill's legacy is complicated.
At one time, some thought the former mayor pro tem would eventually become mayor of Dallas, until he was convicted on federal corruption charges.
He was serving an 18-year prison term when life handed him a death sentence -- terminal prostate cancer. Hill died Saturday night, days after receiving a compassionate release, to be with his family in DeSoto, Texas.
But that’s only part of his legacy. Ask anyone at Concord Baptist Church in Southern Dallas, where Hill once served as deacon.
“Don was a hardworking community servant,” said Deacon Billy R. Allen.
Deacon Greg Harrison went to college with Hill. Hill spent some of his final days before going to prison at Harrison’s farm.
“Tears start coming to my eyes [when I heard about his death], because what a great man, he would give you his last,” said Harrison. “All my life, Don has been a giver who believed in equality.”
City councilwoman Tiffinni Young says Hill was a mentor when she was an aspiring politician and lawyer.
“The work that he did, the passion that he had for this city, for young people, I think that will live on far beyond the unfortunate circumstances in terms of the way his career ended,” said Young.
Barbara Mallory Caraway served with Hill on the city council. She remembers not a convicted criminal, but a man who made a difference.
“Don Hill was a person who fought for diversity, who fought for inclusion,” said Caraway. “He was a family man. He was a true Christian.”
“I only ask that people look at the fullness of his life,” said former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, who grew up with Hill. “At his core, he was a very kind and decent man.”
Hill’s wife, Sheila Farrington-Hill, also convicted on corruption charges, also received a compassionate release from prison, and went to a nursing home in Chicago.