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THS band performs patriot birthday tribute

Musicians march in to surprise Marion Hill


by: TIMES PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - About half of the Tigard High School marching band, led by director Jim Irving (left), showed up at the home of World War II veteran Marion Hill in Summerfield on Saturday to help him celebrate his 94th birthday by playing some songs in his honor.The Tigard High School marching band made a bit of a detour from its usual performance schedule on Saturday when it performed on what is normally a quiet street in Summerfield.

The band plays at games, assemblies and parades, but that day it was invited to help celebrate the birthday of Marion Hill, a World War II veteran who was turning 94.

Included in the band’s repertoire was “Happy Birthday” (twice) and “Wild Blue Yonder,” the Air Force theme song because Marion served in the Army Air Corps.

Marion is a big fan of the THS marching band, and his daughter-in-law Joanne Hill emailed band director Jim Irving a few days before Marion’s birthday asking if the band could play “Happy Birthday” plus some patriotic songs.

“This is something we don’t normally do, but it felt right,” said Irving after the band had finished playing. “I asked the kids if they would be available, and they were excited to do it. We’re very happy to give back to a veteran, and I’m very pleased with the turnout.

“We put this together in two days. I gave the kids the music ahead of time, and we had a 10-minute practice before we left the school.”

About three dozen musicians, which constitute half of the full band complement, marched to Marion’s home on Oaktree Lane and gathered around the corner from his house before starting to play and walk to his driveway.

A Hill family member went into the house and told Marion, “Someone’s here to see you.”

A stunned Marion walked out with his son Steve and sat down in a chair in the driveway to enjoy the concert in his honor. “I’m overwhelmed,” Marion said.

Steve commented, “We thought about five kids would come, and we would have been happy with that. We thought we should tell the neighbors so they would know what was going on, and they came up with the idea of serving cookies and punch to the band kids.”

Indeed, a table was set up on the driveway loaded with platters of cookies and gallons of lemonade, which the kids enjoyed after they finished playing.

“Dad has been supportive of Tigard High School and some of the kids in particular,” Steve said. “He has stayed in touch with some of them, especially those who went on to the University of Oregon, where he graduated.”

Steve seemed a little overwhelmed by the turnout too, adding, “This is way beyond what we expected.”

A crowd of neighbors gathered to hear the band perform, and following the concert, they were invited to join the family inside for birthday cake.

During Marion’s tour of duty during WWII, he was hit by gunfire shot from German anti-aircraft Messerschmitts while stationed on the front lines in Metz, France. After the war, he became a chemist, working on weapons that served as deterrents during the Cold War and earning a number of patents.

He and his wife Susan were married for 52 years.




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