Thomas “Boot” Burcham Hill – Husband, father, brother, grandfather, and so much more, passed away peacefully on the evening of October 15, 2021 at the age of 69 surrounded by his family.
Born in Portland, Oregon December 23, 1951 to Jack and Madelon Hill, he spent his childhood in Tigard, Oregon playing sports, learning to fly planes with his brother Marty (which he loved), and helping his two sisters Nancy and Betsy with their horses (albeit a bit begrudgingly). He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1975, and attended flight school immediately after where he flew F-4’s and then F-14’s during his 23 year Naval aviation career. He served as Commanding Officer of VF-143 The Pukin’ Dogs squadron and Air Boss on the USS George Washington (CVN-73), among some of his many career accolades. But his true passion was for flying, with over 3600 flight hours and 960 aircraft carrier landings in his Navy career as one of the finest pilots ever to serve. Upon retirement from the Navy, he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton and other defense contracting firms, continuing his work with military personnel.
It was while at the Naval Academy that he met his wife, partner, and best friend, Karen, and they began their 48 years together – 46 years married. They had two children Bryan and Lauren, as well as several golden retrievers over the years that they treated like children. As a nurse, Karen was instrumental in caring for him throughout his last 10 years battling cancer. With her care, he was able to be a part of all 4 of his grandchildren’s lives, travel, and advocate for health benefits and research into cancers in military operational personnel. This became his greatest fight during his last few years, ultimately leading to the passage of HR 6395 (2021 NDAA), which secured funding for the study on the incidence of cancer diagnosis and mortality among military aviators and aviation support personnel.
Tom is survived by his loving wife Karen; son Bryan and his wife Amity and their daughter Caitlyn; daughter Lauren and her husband Philip and their children Mya, Brayden and Gavin; his sister Betsy, and brother Marty along with their families. He is pre-deceased by his two parents and sister, Nancy. The hundreds of friends, colleagues, and loved ones he had will truly miss how he genuinely touched and affected them during his lifetime. He will be missed by so many, but his impact on all our lives will undoubtedly be felt for generations to come.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to some of the following organizations to help military veterans and their families impacted by cancer (in no particular order):
To learn more about Tom’s efforts to raise awareness on military personnel’s cancers, please visit –