Cover photo for Kenneth Hillam's Obituary
1927 Kenneth 2013

Kenneth Hillam

July 15, 1927 — July 7, 2013

nneth Loren Hillam, age 85, passed away peacefully on Sunday July 7, 2013 at Hearthstone Manor in Spanish Fork, Utah, in the presence of his wife and youngest daughter.

Ken was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 15, 1927 to Loren Abraham Hillam and Ruth Josephine Olsen. He is preceded in death by his parents; his brothers, Donald Craig and Richard Jon (Ruth Jones) Hillam; and his first wife, Beverly Mae Myers.

Ken married Beverly in the Salt Lake City Temple. They had three children during their twenty-six years together, Bradford Kenneth (Katie Habel) Hillam, Karen Beverly (Doug) Parshall, and Brent Kevin (Brooke Cuddeback) Hillam. Later Ken married Johanne Chartrand and they had one daughter together, Ann Michelle (Gavin) McGraw, early in their thirty-six years of marriage. Ken would tell you that family is the most important thing we have in this life and to avoid the regret of failing to put family first. He is survived by his brother Roger Brent Hillam (Pat King), sister-in-law Ruth Jones Hillam (Richard); his wife, Johanne; and his four children, eleven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

During Ken's time working as a math professor in the Math Department at Brigham Young University, he taught "History of Math" and several other courses and served for fourteen years as a successful Chair of the Department. Ken's colleagues loved him for his ability to resolve department conflicts and concerns equitably, to listen carefully, and to help those who worked with him feel valued and understood. Those fortunate to have known Ken quickly learned the distinction between arithmetic and math, and learned to call them by their proper names!

One of Ken's great loves was listening to and singing in operas. He discovered opera at around age twelve when his parents bought their first radio, and he enjoyed opera--as a listener and a participant--throughout his entire life. He rarely missed the Saturday morning broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera of New York. After retiring early from the Math Department at Brigham Young University, Ken performed with Utah Opera in Salt Lake City for more than sixteen years, during which he performed in no less than forty-four operas. He also sang with Opera West in several operas and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. In addition to opera, Ken frequently attended plays, musicals, and Utah Symphony concerts. He shared his love for the arts with many people who had never had the opportunity to be exposed to them, by inviting them to dress rehearsals or giving them tickets to performances.

Ken's most striking features were his beautiful bass voice and his snow white hair and beard. It wasn't uncommon for children to think he was Santa Claus and to be drawn to him. Not only did these features serve him well in the many operas he sang in, they were useful in his many roles as an actor in multiple plays and musicals at the Hale Center Theater in Orem. He performed the role of Matthew in Anne of Green Gables, the Rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof, and the role of Fezziwig over multiple years in The Christmas Carol, among several others. He also appeared in several films for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, most notably in Joy to the World as a shepherd and as Noah and other roles in The Testaments.

Ken enjoyed many outdoor activities--camping, kayaking, hiking, biking, and simply spending time outdoors working or enjoying nature. He was also well-traveled and visited many states in the United States, several provinces in Canada, and many countries in Europe and Asia. His favorite city to visit was London, England, which he visited fifteen times over his lifetime.

Without a doubt, the many people Ken touched will feel his loss and will miss Ken's presence in this life, including the many students and individuals he influenced to better themselves. Ken's life has changed us for the good, and we will remember him.

Please join us in celebrating Ken's life. We will hold a viewing at Legacy Funeral Home, 3595 N. Main Street in Spanish Fork, on Friday July 12 from 6-8 p.m., and again on Saturday July 13 from 10-10:50 a.m. at the LDS chapel at 3477 E. River Bottom Road in Spanish Fork. Funeral services will follow directly from 11-12:30 p.m. Interment will be at 3 p.m. at Wasatch Lawn Cemetery, 3401 South Highland Drive, Salt Lake City.

The family would like to express their appreciation to the staff at Hearthstone Manor for the wonderful care given to Ken during the last two years of his life.

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