September From the Publisher

Think about doing something different. 

My friend, Burne Hill’s last text to me was, “Been a hard week in here.” He sent it from his hospital room where he was fighting both COVID-19 and pneumonia.  He died on August 31, 2021. 

Burne Hill and John M. Phillips

Burne Wilton Hill, III was not just my friend, but a friend to everyone who met him. His smile and laughter drew you in. His kindness kept you wanting more. He’d walk across the street to help a stranger but he wouldn’t just give the shirt off of his back, he’d add his shoes and his last dollar, too.  Burne Hill served in the military valiantly. He volunteered regularly. And he loved his daughter Sydney more than she will ever understand.

His death has challenged my spirituality, my soul and my ability to comprehend life as I know it.

We have narrowed down his exposure to a sick uber driver who just wanted to make $100 before going home to go rest. That’s it. That brief moment in time lit the match that orphaned a little girl and destroyed his friends and family. No matter what you believe, the most fragile in our midst depend on some level of compassion and trust to survive.

Burne’s last few years were impossibly difficult, yet he handled them with minimal complaint. I know this because I was also his lawyer. When clients come to me, they become friends.  When friends come to me, they get both a friend and a lawyer.  Burne’s journey was particularly hard.  He fell down defective stairs and underwent multiple surgeries, after which he developed a stutter.  His life no longer compared to the one from before.   A trial date was coming in 2021 and we both looked forward to telling his story and holding RLI Insurance Company and Edward White as responsible as a jury desired. They offered him money but it didn’t even compare his surgery bills.

While Burne waited for the courts, his body grew weaker and weaker until that fateful night in an Uber. His going from the biggest smile in any room to a senseless and tragic death has left me doubting everything I thought I knew.  I still haven’t shaken it.

Burne Hill was better than his ending.  No one deserves to die because someone prioritizes a quick $100 over another person’s life. It’s shouldn’t be a choice when that choice could kill a mother, a father, a husband, a wife, a sister, a brother, a child or a dear friend.  But that’s what is happening.  As a commUNITY, we are our brother and sister’s protectors. We owe each other more than yelling and screaming. Right now, getting vaccinated is one of the ways we can unite to help those who need the most help.  An act of generosity that is free for everyone.

 I am going to end this with my friend Burne’s words:

This morning I went and saw the sunrise and as I was coming back to my apartment, I really wanted to do something different. Think about doing something different. So, what I would like to do is I would like to challenge everybody today, a Thanksgiving Day challenge. It could be all weekend long, pass it to all of your friends. And all you do is you go to Facebook, you hit the little go live button and give 30 seconds of what you are thankful for. I am thankful for all of my friends…I’m thankful for God…. I’m thankful for Sydney’s love…I’m thankful for my best friend Mike Hollis…I’m thankful for my apartment, my job…. I’m thankful for my health. I’m very thankful for the ability this morning to get up and open my eyes and have a fresh start. The small things like that really do matter to me. A lot of people do not have that opportunity, didn’t have that opportunity today. So, what I would like to do is encourage everybody to do a Facebook live post of what you’re thankful for. Take 30 seconds and let’s see if we can do this. Just speak from the heart, 30 seconds what you’re thankful for. Have a wonderful day. Peace

 Perfectly said.  Rest peacefully Burne. 

Burne Wilton Hill, III

August 12, 1969 – August 31, 2021

About John M. Phillips

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