The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

James Hill, Post Writers Group editor, dies at 75

James Hill in The Washington Post newsroom. (TWP)

James S. Hill, a journalist who became managing editor of The Washington Post’s Writers Group of opinion journalists and columnists, editorial cartoonists and comic strip authors, died Feb. 7 at his home in Sun City, Ariz. He was 75.

The cause was lung disease, said a daughter, Amanda Knee.

Mr. Hill was managing editor of the Writers Group for 14 years until retiring in 2014. Among the writers he helped syndicate were Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne Jr., George Will and, until his death in 2018, Charles Krauthammer.

As an editor, Dionne wrote in an email, Mr. Hill was a stickler for “using the right word, conveying thoughts clearly — but always saw the fun in it. … He was shrewd and realistic about how the world works, but never fell into a deadening cynicism.”

James Sherman Hill was born in Winfield, Kan., on Oct. 4, 1946. He was an infant when his father died, and he was raised by his mother, a nurse.

He attended Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, where he took his first newspaper job at the Herald-Leader.

He later held reporting and editing positions at newspapers including the Kansas City Star, the Oakland Tribune, the Los Angeles Times (from 1979 to 1990), the Phoenix Gazette and the Arizona Republic. In Washington, he taught a graduate course on journalism at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

In retirement, Mr. Hill moved to Arizona from Manassas Park, Va.

In addition to his daughter, of Albuquerque, survivors include his wife of 55 years, Connie Pierson Hill, of Sun City; another daughter, Lisa Spears of Denver; and four grandchildren.

In a column published after Mr. Hill’s death, Ruben Navarrette Jr., a Latino columnist syndicated with the Writers Group, described him as a “protective father figure. He called me ‘son’ and made my well-being his concern. He gave me advice when I needed it, and scoldings when I deserved.”

Without Mr. Hill, Navarrette added, “it’s doubtful that I would have had a writing career at all.”