Raymond Hill, a University of Pennsylvania clinical research coordinator, died suddenly Jan. 9 in San Francisco. He was 27.
The cause is still under investigation, pending toxicology reports.
Hill was a native and resident of Philadelphia, having grown up in the southwest section of the city and most recently living near 12th and Spring Garden streets.
He attended West Catholic High School, where he was the valedictorian of his class. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Penn in 2007.
Hill moved to California upon graduation and worked as a research coordinator at Standford Univeristy for two years before enrolling in Stanford Law School, where he served as president of the school’s LGBT group. He spent a year at the school before returning to Philly for a time. He went on to study at Georgetown University Law Center before entering a rehab program in Minnesota and eventually returning to Philadelphia.
He’d been working at Penn since last summer, where he assisted the director of the Brain Behavior Laboratory in research on brain disorders such as schizophrenia, and coordinated the unit’s medical-legal practice that utilizes brain imaging for civil and criminal proceedings.
Hill’s sister, Dottie Robbins, said her brother was known for his intelligence.
“He just knew everything,” she said. “My mother and I took a trip to San Francisco in 2007 when he was living out there, which was just the best trip of our lives, and he showed us around and just knew everything. He told us this story that started with him explaining what a virus is and it became a two-hour lecture. And my mother and I were just waiting on every word because he could make things interesting and exciting. He could have done anything he wanted.”
Martin Naradikian, Hill’s partner from 2004-09 who remained close friends with him, agreed that Hill’s intellect was unmatched.
“He was quite possibly the most intelligent person I ever met. I fell in love with his mind,” Naradikian said. “And he was always argumentative; if he started a conversation with you, he would always see it through. I adored his passion.”
During his time in California, Hill worked in the state Attorney General’s office and assisted in writing the report in which the AG declined to defend Proposition 8.
Naradikian said Hill was “very passionate about politics. He loved talking about politics and the law.”
Robbins noted her brother once commented that, just as some people like sports, politics was his sport.
His love of the law, however, didn’t preclude him from having a lighter side.
“He was goofy,” Naradikian said. “He’d make a random noise or a face. He was just a hilarious guy who liked to make everyone laugh. That’s what I’ll always miss, his goofiness and fun side.”
Hill was also a constant resource for his loved ones, Robbins said.
“He was so inspirational. He knew, no matter what, what to say at the right time. He knew what you needed to hear and when you needed to hear it.”
While Hill’s struggle with crystal-meth addiction did deplete some of his spirit, Robbins said, he was determined to try to overcome it.
He was an active member of Crystal Meth Anonymous and chaired many sessions, sharing frequently.
“Ray was a beautiful, amazing and awe-inspiring human being,” Robbins said.
In addition to Naradikian and Robbins, Hill is survived by his mother, Cass; brother, Jimmy Corkery; sister-in-law, Jenn Miller Corkery; brother-in-law, Tremayne Robbins; nieces Mariah and Shania Corkery; nephews Jordan and Colin Corkery; and great-nephew Gavin Robb.
Memorial donations can be made to the Ray Hill Memorial Fund (www.facebook.com/rayhill.memorial?ref=ts&fref=ts).
A visitation will be held 4 p.m. Feb. 17, immediately followed by a funeral service at the Church of St. Luke and The Epiphany, 330 S. 13th St., where Hill was a member. A reception at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., will follow.