David Harris Hill, 81, Panama City Beach, Fla., passed away peacefully at home on March 14, 2022. David was born at home on February 1, 1941, in Lanett, Ala. to I.D. and Virginia Hill. Legend has it that David was placed promptly in the kitchen’s oven since no incubator could be found to warm his premature body. David was raised in Lanett and became a star athlete and All-State football player at Lanett High School, where he graduated in 1959.
David matriculated at Auburn University where he was one of Ralph “Shug” Jordan’s Tigers for the next four seasons. During his freshman year at Auburn, David married Toni Medders of nearby Fairfax, Ala.
While at Auburn, joyfully living in married student housing and frequently eating boxed spaghetti dinners, David and Toni welcomed into the world their first two children—Rusty and Sandee.
David’s football skills grew steadily at Auburn, and he was drafted by both the New York Giants of the National Football League and the Dallas Texans of the American Football League in 1963. David had been to New York during his senior trip in high school and had determined The Big Apple was decidedly not for him. Dallas was closer to home and almost Southern, so he chose to sign with the Texans.
David never set foot in Dallas as a Texan because shortly after signing it was announced the team was moving to Kansas City. Kansas City was even less familiar than New York but David and Toni packed up Rusty and Sandee and moved to Kansas City where they would soon welcome their third child, Christopher. In Kansas City, they found a community where any Chiefs player was the toast of the town, and they would call that community home for the next 23 years.
David started at right tackle for the Chiefs as a rookie in 1963 and held that position until his retirement after the 1974 season. During his time with the Chiefs, David was a key member of the team that went to the first Super Bowl. Three years later, the Chiefs became World Champions after beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.After that game,sports journalist Jerry Izenberglauded David as a key Chiefs’ contributor to that victory for“…all the while…slamming into (future HallofFame defensive end) Carl Eller.”When David’s football career concluded, his efforts were eventually noted and rewarded by inductions into both the Kansas City Chiefs HallofFame and the State of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
While still playing for the Chiefs, an autograph signing session at a local car dealership launched what would end up being a very successful post-football career in the auto auction business. David eventually became general manager of several auctions in Kansas City and Denver before accepting a call to go “back home” to run auctions in Boaz and Birmingham, Alabama. Through these roles he eventually became COO and a founding principal of the national auction companyADESA. David was key to ADESA’s early growth not only as an auction company but as a holding company for other interests such as transport trucking. Later David and Toni also became two of the founding partners of a retail automobile dealership, Panama City Toyota.
David was a man of many nicknames. “Skinny” was the first, from high school, where it was noted his 6’ 5” frame only held 205 pounds. There was also “Big Dave,” which Rusty’sand Chris’s friends called him, although in no circumstances ever to his face. Most notable, however was “Butter Beans,” given to him by his Chiefs’ brethren. The name stuck when one day during training camp, longing for home, he lamented to his teammates: “I sure do wish I had some butter beans.”
While David was known for many things and by many names and for many accomplishments, his life would eventually be defined by two words: “Papa” and “Christian.” Shortly after Davidand Toni’s move back to Alabama, David’s distrust of preachers was set aside just long enough for him to truly hear the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time. This good news provided him with an identity that superseded all others, even surpassing (just barely) his identity as “Papa,” an identity that would grow and take shape over the next 30-plus years as he and Toni welcomed and nurtured and lavished upon their nine grandchildren.
Survivors include daughter Sandee (Greg) Finley of Leawood, Kan.; brothers Mike (Barbara) Hill of Lafayette, Ala. and Jody (Donna) Hill of Clanton, Ala.; daughters-in-law Tracy Hill and Kimberleigh Hill, both of Panama City Beach, Fla.; nine grandchildren: Olivia (Seth) Kohlstaedt, Kayla Hill, Davis Finley, Bronson Hill, Timothy Finley, Phoebe Finley, Mia Hill, Annika Finley, and David H. Hill, III(Tres). He is also survived by two great-granddaughters, Piper and Peyton Glenn. David was preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 59 years, Toni, and his two sons, David Harris Hill II (Rusty) and Christopher Allen Hill.
A celebration of Life was held on Saturday, March 19, at the Johnson Brown-Service Funeral Home Chapel, 3700 20th Ave. Valley, Ala.
In honor of David, the family suggests contributions to Evangelize Today through the following link: https://www.refglobal.org/boykin-burt.html
Please visit David’s Memorial Tribute page at www.johnsonbrownservicefh.com to leave a condolence for his family, to share a memory of David, or to light a Remembrance Candle in his memory.