CHAMPAIGN – Kenneth Leroy Hilton, husband, father, brother and friend, passed away on Saturday (Dec. 1, 2012) at Carle Hospital in Urbana.
Kenny was born in June of 1938 on the family farm near Lewistown, Ill., the 10th child of Harley and Grace Hilton. His was a rural childhood centered on helping his family with the farm and developing an unwavering sense of family, which he carried with him all of his days.
In 1960, while working at a grocery store in Monmouth, Ill., at the urging of the local milkman (yes, it actually was the milkman), Kenny was introduced to and began to court Lana Hamilton, also of Monmouth, marrying her in July of 1962. Their love affair would last 50 years, persevering through early separation while Kenny served his country in the U.S. Air Force and a tour of duty in Pakistan, and ultimately produce two sons, Mark Hilton of Indianapolis in 1966 and Paul Hilton of St. Joseph in 1969.
After an honorable discharge from the military in 1964, Kenny and his bride moved to Rantoul and ultimately Champaign-Urbana, where he began employment at the post office in Champaign that would continue for 40 years, until his retirement in 2006.
In his life, Kenny exemplified the old saying to "walk the talk," practicing a faith which was always about serving more than speaking. He loved singing in the church choir and had a spiritual gift of listening, which made him a source of comfort for many. Kenny Hilton knew the Lord and served him exactly as God intended. Kenny and Lana were members of First Christian Church in Champaign.
More than any personal achievement or worldly gain, Kenny intensely valued his family. Beginning with the large family from which he came, to the beautiful bride he married and served all his life, to his sons and their wives, to his grandchildren, Kenny placed those he loved always above himself. Most especially, he cherished the little ones, whom he doted over and of whom he was so proud. He is a blessing to all, friend and family, and will be treasured as long as they live.
Kenny is preceded in death by both parents and seven brothers and two sisters. To honor his memory and remember all of the many wonderful moments of his life, Kenny leaves his wife, Lana; his two sons and their wives; five grandchildren and one great-grandchild, two of which he will not meet in this world, but whom he has already talked to in heaven and is probably already singing to as they prepare to join those who remain to remember their grandpa. Also surviving is one brother, Ray Hilton of Marion.
A celebration of life service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at First Christian Church, 3601 S. Staley Road, Champaign. A family receiving line will begin prior to the service, at 10 a.m. Burial will take place at Mount Olive Cemetery in Mayview, immediately following the service; then a reception will be at 1:30 p.m., again at First Christian.
Because of his love of his children and grandchildren, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Champaign County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), 154C Lincoln Square, Urbana, IL 61801.
Morgan Memorial Home, Savoy, is handling arrangements.