Each year, he and his descendants, as well as some nieces and nephews, get together at Kentucky Lake near Paris, Tenn. They spend some time together as a family, enjoy the scenery and participate in activities that have been scheduled for the group.
On Wednesday morning, June 13, his bags were neatly packed and he was ready to go. Their reunion has been held at the same location for about 18 years. Around fifty people from nearly ten states congregate at the small town, that according to Hillin, accommodates them with true southern hospitality.
On October 4, 2011, Hillin celebrated his 100th birthday by getting his driver's license renewed.
Until recently, Hillin has resided in the Wardell and Pascola communities, even having served as the mayor of Wardell for twelve years. While in that position, and also during his time on the City Council, he learned some valuable lessons, one of which he expressed this way, "When a politician tells you, 'I did something', don't believe them! It takes everybody."
He credits the members of the Council for the success the group as a whole achieved during those years and believes it is important to work together when in a position of leadership.
Hillin now lives in Gideon, Missouri where he makes his home in a residential care facility apartment at the Gideon Care Center. In February, he was selected Valentine's King and for Father's Day, he earned the title of oldest father.
Hillin remembers his early years as the eighth child of ten. He attended the First Baptist Church of Wardell with his parents, James and Martha Miller Hillin. He remembers his uncle fighting in World War I and the Model T his parents owned.
Baseball and basketball occupied some of his free time during those early years and he recalls riding in a horse drawn wagon with his 1927 basketball team to compete in games.
The family lived along the Little River where his father and grandfather worked in the timber industry. He learned to work hard and became a St. Louis Cardinal's fan.
Hillin recalls that during those days, few families had radios inside their homes. Instead, they had to go to local stores to hear broadcasts. Even then, the radio at the store he frequented did not have speakers and a man sat with earphones on his head listening to the Cardinal games and would repeat to the audience what the announcer had just said.
In 1929, Hillin decided to see one of the games for himself. He caught an excursion train and headed north to Sportsman's Park where the redbirds played. He paid $1.75 to get into the game. Including his train pass, game ticket and food, Hillin returned home having only spent $5.00.
Eventually, his father became too sick to provide for the family and the burden of bread winner fell on young Andrew. He chose to quit school and join the work force. He hauled merchandise from railcars to the grocery stores in the area.
On September 14, 1934, Hillin married Hazel Neely of Caruthersville. They went on to have six children, five of which survived into adulthood.
During the Great Depression, Hillin participated in building the streets of Caruthersville as part of the Works Progress Administration, a national program that helped to employ millions across the country. He also was part of the building team for the Wardell High School Gymnasium and helped cut the right of way for Highway A through the southern Bootheel.
Hillin and his wife farmed forty acres for many years. They also opened a grocery store called Hillin White Way in Pascola. Following the grocery store venture, Hillin worked at a box factory in Caruthersville for a short time until the owners of Dalton Oil Company asked him to join their business.
He spent the remaining 23 years of his work career at Dalton before his retirement.
Having learned a strong work ethic from his parents and passing it on to his children, Hillin was told by the Daltons that he was the best worker they ever had. His territory ranged throughout much of the Missouri Bootheel. He sold gas, diesel, grease and motor oil to farmers and gas stations and said that he was willing to work overtime in order to service those customers, often taking care of problems on the weekend.
In addition to his many years of public service as Councilman and Mayor, Hillin also gave back to the community by hosting an annual Fourth of July Barbecue. He and two of his sons would grill at the local park. Members of the community would gather and bring some pot luck and the large group would enjoy celebrating Independence Day together.
Despite working hard and living a healthy lifestyle, Hillin credits his longevity to "the goodness of the Lord". He claims that God has blessed him and that it is important to remember that we can't live without him. He also believes that it is important to look after your parents and explained that he or his wife were present when each of their parents passed on.
For over fifty years, the Hillins were members of the Pascola Pentecostal Church where he served as Sunday School Superintendent, Deacon, and Sunday School Teacher. He feels it is important to give your children a strong Christian upbringing and teach them the importance of working for a living. That is exactly what he and his wife tried to do with their children, all of which have acquired success in their careers and life.
Hillin now attends the same church he once rode in a wagon to with his parents, First Baptist of Wardell.
This man has seen many changes throughout his lifetime and is willing to share his wisdom with the younger generation. Throughout the last century, the world has seen many changes, but Andrew Hillin's faith in God and strong commitment to do what's right, work hard, love his family, and be kind to others has earned him a group of devoted friends and family as well as the satisfaction of a life well lived.