27 February 1938 in Carlsbad, New Mexico to 5 February 5, 2019 in Santa Cruz, California
Parents: Helen and Harold Hildreth
Jim Hildreth, known to some as "Red," was a wonderful storyteller, family historian, and country music lover, who passed away on February 5, 2019 of natural causes. After a stroke three years before, Jim couldn't speak more than a few words or write at all from losing the use of his right hand. Even so, when musicians came to perform at Driftwood HealthCare Center where he lived, he joined in on the singing with his resonant deep voice. All the words he couldn't say in conversation, burst forth intact in songs.
For much of his life, Jim was the Hildreth family historian who worked tirelessly on details of genealogy. He would then send results of his research to appreciative family members across the country. When he discovered his Ross relatives were connected to Cherokee Chief John Ross, he plunged into learning Cherokee. In the process, he created a lengthy Cherokee phrase dictionary and worked on his pronunciation and dance steps at the Stanford Powwows.
In his late teens, after a few college courses and a short stint in the Navy, Jim took to the road for many years—hitching his way from place to place on a vagabond's life of adventure.
When he returned home, in addition to Cherokee, Jim studied Russian culture, language and music. He sang bass in the Menlo Park Russian Church Choir. Later, his religious and musical inclinations leaned toward the synagogue, where he sang and acquired proper accoutrements to engage in Judaic prayer. Also, for most of his life, he was good friends with priests at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park.
Through the changes of religions and religious music, Jim was continually devoted to country and western music which he sang with gusto. He knew the family histories of all the performers and the words to all their songs. In his retirement following decades of janitorial work at the Stanford Eating Clubs, Jim's days in Palo Alto were spent taking long walks, visiting the library, and enjoying his passion for country music. When walking required a cane and, eventually, a walker, he stayed close to his TV watching the news and listening to his favorite music.
Younger members of the family remember Jim for his unconditional love and appreciation. Always devoted to the family, Jim was able to be near his sister and immediate family in his last few years. Especially important at this time was the extraordinary care Jim received from Lena Veglia and Michaela Veglia.
Jim is survived by his sister, Beth Regardz—born Beth Elisa Hildreth with former married names: Beth Jensky and Beth Veglia; Beth's children: Michael Veglia and Michaela Veglia of Santa Cruz; Michael's children: Marco Veglia of Santa Cruz, Nicola Veglia and her child, Luna Veglia Pedersen of Tualatin, Oregon, and son-by-marriage Jason Wilson of Santa Cruz; Michaela's child: Isabelle Fatimata Ndiaye Thioune of Santa Cruz; and Jim's cousins: Gary Covell of Los Gatos, Ron Covell of Aptos, and James J. Simerville of Colorado Springs.