Robert Alvin Hiltz, 88, a lifelong teacher who worked with youngsters into his ninth decade, died July 2 of complications from Parkinson's disease at Iliff Nursing Home in Dunn Loring.
A native of Washington and resident of Annandale, Mr. Hiltz graduated from McKinley High School in 1933 and Wilson Teachers College in 1937. He began his 60-year career in education at Bancroft Elementary School in the District, and while teaching received a master's degree in administration from George Washington University. He also completed coursework for a doctorate in education from the University of Maryland.
During World War II, Mr. Hiltz was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps and was stationed in England and France.
After the war, he returned to Bancroft Elementary. In 1951, he became an assistant professor at Wilson Teachers College, which became the University of the District of Columbia, and taught at the laboratory school from 1956 to 1969. He was principal of Thomson Elementary School from 1956 to 1969.
He moved to Giddings Elementary, where he was principal until he retired in 1972.
Mr. Hiltz's son John recalled that his father was an active principal. He appeared on TV programs with his students during the 1960s and lobbied hard to bring one of the first Head Start programs in the District to his school.
He also helped provide less fortunate students with food and clothing.
Mr. Hiltz enjoyed taking a trip to photograph the American West after he retired, but in 1973 he began a second career as a special education teacher, first at Madison Elementary and then at Nottingham Elementary in Arlington County. He retired again in 1983 but continued working as a substitute teacher until he was 80 and taught poetry to Arlington County elementary students as a volunteer for several years after that. He also learned to use a computer and plunged into writing a long memoir to share with family and friends.
"As a substitute, he would work 140 to 150 days a year," his son John recalled. "I'd see him at the dining table making up individualized lesson plans for his students, and maybe he was only going to be there for a week.
"And when he was teaching poetry, he'd bring his students' poems home, word-process them, work with the kids. He loved it."
In addition to his son, of Arlington, survivors include his wife of 53 years, Ruth Hiltz of Annandale; and two other sons, Andy Hiltz of Burke and Christopher Hiltz of Springfield.