Rev. Adam Byrd Hillman, Jr. – Memorial Obituary
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Rev. Adam Byrd Hillman, Jr., 85, passed away peacefully on Friday, July 26, 2019 at his Kosciusko home, surrounded by his family, after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. Rev. Hillman was born on May 17, 1934 to Lessie and Byrd Hillman, Sr. of Union, Mississippi. Byrd was raised in the BeBetter community of Neshoba County and graduated from Union High School. Upon graduation, he attended Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. While working in the Standard Life building, he met Sara Simmons, who became his beloved wife of 60 years, as they married on September 3, 1957. He subsequently received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. He then attended and graduated from the Chandler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and was ordained as a minister in the United Methodist Church in 1962.
Rev. Hillman’s early career ministries in the United Methodist Church included appointments in the Mississippi community churches of McLain, Buckatunna, State Line and Pelahatchie. In 1967, Rev. Hillman was appointed as the Associate Pastor of Central United Methodist Church of Meridian, where he served until 1973 when he was asked to become the Pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ocean Springs, where he served until 1980. His next appointment was at First United Methodist Church in Clinton until 1988, when he was honored to be appointed as the District Superintendent for the Brookhaven District. This was the highlight of his career. After serving this six year appointment, Rev. Hillman continued his ministry at First Methodist Church in Philadelphia, followed by St. Marks UMC in Brandon, Mississippi until his retirement. Byrd and Sara semi-retired to remodel Sara’s family’s home, fondly known as the Simmons Country Place in Kosciusko, where he concluded his formal work ministering to the congregations at the United Methodist Churches of Ethel and Tabernacle.
Byrd and Sara’s love for each other was well known, as was their love and support for their son, John Robert. They were a profoundly loving and giving Methodist minister couple. Byrd and Sara deeply loved their family and they also loved the United Methodist Church. Much of Byrd’s ministry focused on youth and children. How could children not love “Big Byrd!” Along with his more than 50 years as a pastor, Byrd was elected as a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Byrd also served as Asst. Secretary of the Annual Conference, Chairperson of the Board of Discipleship, of the Seashore Assembly Trustees, of the Camp Wesley Pines Trustees, and of the Division of Elders of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Byrd and Sara had roles in leadership and governance at Lake Junaluska Assembly, and served key administrative responsibilities with devotion, including several years as Pension Liaison for ministers and their families of the Mississippi Conference. Rev. Hillman was very honored to be the first to receive The Dickson Order Award in 2002, but was even more proud when Sara was awarded the same in 2017, making them the first couple to be awarded such. The service legacy of Byrd and Sara Hillman to the United Methodist Church is well-known and deeply understood, and that legacy will be long-lasting for the good of the Church and in recognition of the blessings of God.
In recent years, Byrd was referred to as “Papa Byrd.” Papa Byrd was generous beyond words, extremely patriotic and expressed his sense of blessings daily – for the Simmons Country Place where he retired with Sara, for his extensive circle of friends made over the years, for those who visited frequently and who cared so deeply for Byrd, Sara and John Robert, and for the medical staff and caregivers who helped him, especially in the latter stages of his cancer.
Byrd Hillman, Jr. is survived by his three children, Adam Byrd Hillman, III (his wife Cookie), Mary Frances Hillman Benton (her husband Brad), and John Robert Hillman, and by five grandchildren: Taylor Anne Benton, Joshua Hillman Benton, Adam Byrd Hillman, IV, Mercer Royce Benton, and Andrew Fletcher Hillman. He is also survived by his sisters Pat Murrell and Rosemary Hopkins (her husband Oliver).
Byrd’s guidance, friendship, and spirit will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Yet, we are all thankful that his incredible faith in God's word and Jesus' promise of salvation has resulted in eternal life and that he joins his beloved Sara in everlasting life. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21.
All services will be held at First UMC in Kosciusko. Visitation will be in the parlor Friday, August 2, from 6-8pm and Saturday, August 3, 9-11am with a church service to honor Rev. Byrd Hillman, Jr. at 11am and burial to follow in Parkway Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in Byrd’s name to The Sara Hillman Ministry and Program Endowment at Lake Junaluska Assembly, Inc.
For online condolences visit culpepperfuneralhome.com