Robert Kendall Hill, 83, of Kinston (Hugo), passed away peacefully August 21, 2023. He was
born in Lenoir County on August 28, 1939.
Kendall is survived by his son, Rob Hill and wife, Amy; daughter Leigh Barbee and husband,
Morry; grandchildren Savannah Hill and fiancé, Brandon Moore and Dallas Hill; beloved furry
companion Lucy; and his brother Jimmy Hill, all of Hugo.
He is also survived by daughters, Shari Johnson and husband, Jeff and Jada Gilbert;
grandchildren Bobbie Ann Colie and fiancé, John McGaha and Kelly Futrell and husband, Zach;
great-grandchildren Bryce and Brody Arnette and Blaze Futrell; as well as numerous nieces and
The family would like to express our heartfelt thankfulness to Pat and Kendall’s sidekicks and
dear friends, Nicole Leake and Olivia Brown.
Kendall was preceded in death by infant Hill; his parents, James Tull Hill and wife, Margaret
Hardison Hill; wife of 40 years, Patricia Massey Hill; grandson, Frankie Lanier; and brother,
In 1957, he graduated from Contentnea High School and proceeded to graduate with the class
of ‘62 from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture.
As co-owner of Kinston, North Carolina based Tull Hill Farms, he oversaw a progressive and
diversified farming operation producing various crops on more than 6,000 acres. It was
incorporated by his father, Tull Hill, and Kendall was determined to always be a contributor to its
success alongside his brother, son, and nephew. In his golden years, he was always ready to
visit Big Blue or any auto parts store to pick up a needed part.
Kendall always believed that agricultural innovation was the key to every farmer’s future and,
specifically, sweetpotatoes captured his interests at NC State. His fascination led to a lifetime of
supporting pioneering research of the favorite southern vegetable. At NC State, this research
included initiating and supporting the micropropagation program for sweetpotatoes and he was
instrumental in creating the college’s Specialty Crops Program.
He was a member of the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association Hall of Fame and was
honored with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award in 2006.
Being an active member of the agriculture industry was a passion of his. Kendall served as past
President of the North Carolina Agricultural Business Council, served on the Executive
committee of the North Carolina Agricultural Foundation and the North Carolina Agricultural and
Life Sciences Research Foundation, and was a past member of the North Carolina Extension
In 2015, Kendall was awarded the Exemplary Service Award by the North Carolina Sweetpotato
Commission. He devotedly served six terms on the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission
Board, including four terms as president, and served as the state’s representative to the United
States Sweet Potato Council.
He served on the North Carolina State University of Agriculture and Life Sciences Advisory
Council under three different Deans. Serving as Chairman of the fundraising efforts, he took
part in securing $1.3 million for the Henry Covington Endowment which funded research for the
His love of music was contagious. He proudly attended 23 Delbert McClinton & Friends Sandy
Beaches Cruises and hosted 21 Tater Jams in downtown Hugo. In Kinston, he loyally
supported Summerfest and NewSong’s Very Merry Christmas Tour bringing famous bands to
the city. Music was a big key to his happiness as he reminisced through it about the old times
and dear friends he made.
Most known for his passion for music, eagerness to help others, and life-long endeavor to
promote the growth of the sweetpotato industry, Kendall was a one of a kind man. Along the
way, he made many special connections. Kendall dearly loved his family, friends, and
communities as well as his Sharon United Methodist Church family where he was a faithful
servant and life-long member.
Visitation will be held Saturday, August 26th from 2:00 to 5:00 pm at Howard-Carter Funeral
Home, 1608 West Vernon Avenue, Kinston NC.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, August 27th at 2:00 pm at Sharon United Methodist
Church, 4106 Sharon Church Road, Kinston, NC
A private burial will be held on his 84th birthday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sharon United Methodist Church at
4106 Sharon Church Road, Kinston, NC.