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Robert Kenneth Hilliard

Robert Kenneth Hilliard
  • November 4, 1948 - January 13, 2020
  • Bennettsville, South Carolina
  • In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in his name to
  • Ralph H. Johnson VA Medic Center, Attention: Voluntary Service
    109 Bee Street
    Charleston, SC 29401

Pause Togetherness by Bruce H. Zimmerman (ASCAP)
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J. Henry Stuhr West Ashley Chapel

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Charleston, SC 29414
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Memories & Candles

“I really enjoyed working with Kenny at the paper mill. I am so sorry for the lose and I will be praying for the family. ”
1 of 6 | Posted by: Brit Robinette - Hartsville, SC

“We'll miss you. ”
2 of 6 | Posted by: Ray Ogilvie - Hartsville, SC

“He'll be missed. ”
3 of 6 | Posted by: Ray Ogilvie - Hartsville, SC

“Emzee, I apologize for the lateness of this note. I only learned of Kenny's death this morning. Kenny was always very helpful to me, both at the...Read More »
4 of 6 | Posted by: Don Newton - Garden City, SC

“Kenny was a good, kind and unselfish man who cared deeply about helping others. As God welcomes Kenny's sweet spirit into heaven, may He give peace...Read More »
5 of 6 | Posted by: Doug & Suzanne Jennings - SC

“We are so very sorry for your loss. May you all feel our prayers surrounding you during this difficult time. ”
6 of 6 | Posted by: Amanda Luck - Moncure, NC


Robert Kenneth Hilliard, surrounded by his family and his beloved poodle Rudy, succumbed to pancreatic cancer on January 13, 2020 at Charleston's Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center.

The second born child of Herbert Harmon Hilliard and Margie Rae (Rivers) Hilliard, Kenny was born in his parents' home in Cheraw, South Carolina on November 4, 1948. His active and rambunctious childhood ended with an unfavorable draft number, leading Kenny to enlist in the United States Navy after graduating from Cheraw High School in 1967 in the top 10 of his class.

Seaman Recruit Hilliard completed his basic training at Naval Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. After graduating boot camp and completing follow on training in cryptography, Petty Officer Hilliard was assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) homeported in San Diego, CA. As a Cryptographic Technician (Operator) he handled classified communications vital to the commanding officer while on tours in and related to The Vietnam War. After completion of his enlistment, having achieved the rank of Petty Officer Second Class, he was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1971, and chose to make his home in nearby Imperial Beach, California before returning home to the East Coast.

Kenny enrolled at Wingate College (now Wingate University) using the G.I. Bill. Though his sister believed him to be a professional student, he finally graduated from Wingate in 1981 with a B.S. in Business Administration with a minor in Engineering. During and after college, he worked for his family's business, Hilliard's Loan and Pawn, before marrying his wife, Annie Newton Hilliard, a public school teacher in Marlboro County, in March 1988. After they married he was "forced" to move "Across the River" from Cheraw to Bennettsville, a claim he was adamant about until the end.

He was instrumental in the construction of the first paper mill in Marlboro County, Willamette Industries, and began working as one of the first direct employees of the mill in 1989. He retired from Willamette (later known as Weyerhaeuser and Domtar) in 2006. He also worked in the Marlboro County Tax Assessors office as a GIS specialist years before he fully retired in 2010.

Diagnosed on Christmas Day 2019, Kenny's battle with cancer was brief. However, Kenny did live to see his "Emzee Girl" marry Jason Luck (the grandson of one of his favorite Wingate professors) on December 29, 2019 at Charleston's VA hospital.

Kenny is survived by his daughter, Emzee Catherine Hilliard Luck and her husband, Jason Scott Luck of Charleston, his beloved younger sister Dr. Karen Hilliard McGee, her husband Robert Lynn McGee and their children, Dr. Hillary Lynn McGee, Ryan Ansel McGee of Lexington, SC, and his niece Amanda Hilliard Coscetti (Chris) of Florence, SC, as well as the aunt and uncles he loved as his sister and brothers: Sybil Ruth Rivers Cook (Ronnie) of Wagener, SC, William Coyt "Billy" Rivers of Puyallup, WA, and Glenn Julian Rivers (Shirley) of Kansas City, MO. He is also survived by Rudy, who will now take up residence with Emzee and Jason in Charleston.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Annie Newton Hilliard, his parents, and his brother, Herbert Lewis (H.L.) Hilliard.

He now returns home to the Pee Dee one last time to be buried in the Newton Cemetery on Adamsville Road, next to his wife, in a private service.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made in his name to Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, Attention: Voluntary Service, 109 Bee St., Charleston, SC 29401 or The Humane Society of Marlboro County, P.O. Box 135, Bennettsville, SC 29512.