Carl E. Hileman
Nominated by Lindsay Hesselmeyer his Step Daughter
Carl E. Hileman is from Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative
It’s not every girl that is lucky enough to have two dads in her life, but I’m extremely blessed. I am writing about my step dad, Carl who I refer to as dad because he said the only steps in our house are the ones you take when you’re walking.
From the time I was three years-old, he has been there for me, my sister and my step brother. He may not have been one of those over-crowded amusement park dads, but it didn’t matter because he made all our adventures feel like one big ride. He transformed our heavily wooded yard into a park with a tree swing, fire pit, picnic area, a water park and a nature conservancy. I learned more from him hiking around in the forest and in our yard, than I ever did in an ecology class. Now that he has six grandchildren, he has added a gravel box with a child size excavator, two more tree swings, a hammock and he has mapped out an area for a large tree house that he will build this spring. He continues to instill his love of nature in his grandchildren.
Besides all the great things he has done for his children and grandchildren, he also donated his time to build a war monument/memorial in the town where he has lived his entire life. It was a paid labor of love, but dad and his friend also restored the historic railroad depot that the town uses for their town hall.
His most important role in life to date is the love and care he has given to his parents. My grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about 14 years ago and my grandpa with Parkinson’s around the same time. To make sure they were able to maintain their dignity while staying safe, my dad enlisted a few of his friends and they built a totally accessible home on his property for my grandparents. So began my dad’s new routine of cooking for them; taking them to doctor appointments; doing their shopping and making sure their home was cleaned and maintained.
Grandma passed away at home on June 11, 2012 at the age of 82. With her death came new issues for Pop (grandpa), as he fell into a deep depression, combined with some occasional dementia. Dad sought out assistance so that Pop would have someone to sit with him occasionally so that he wasn’t alone much during the day. Many have asked him why he does what he does and the answer is simple…they’re my parents and I love them.
My mom couldn’t have married a more caring man, and I am proud to call him my Father of the Year.