Senior Master Sergeant James Ivan Hilton, Jr., 84, died peacefully at home on December 15, 2017. He was a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars who served our country for 28 years.
SMSgt. Hilton was born on April 9, 1933 in Montrose, Illinois to James Hilton, Sr. and Julia Hilton. In 1951, he joined the armed forces and completed basic training in Glendale, California, and then was assigned to Chanute AFB where he completed Jet Engine Mechanics training. Next he was assigned to James Connally AFB where he met Paulina "Polly" Lasseter, whom he married in Waco, Texas, in 1954 and made his lifelong partner. During his time in the Air Force, he was stationed at McChord AFB, Wheelus AFB, Travis AFB, Offutt AFB, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Holloman AFB, and Hill AFB.
SMSgt. Hilton was a loyal and patriotic citizen who retired in 1979 after a life-fulfilling 28-year career serving the country he loved. After retiring, they moved to Chandler, Texas, where he spent much of his time building on their property and enjoying summers with their grandchildren. All five grandchildren have vivid memories of the special time they spent with their "Gramma and Grampa" in Texas every summer until moving to Crestview, Florida in 2003.
A true do-it-yourselfer, he always had time to teach others in the ways of repairing, building and craftsmanship. A long-time member of the Shriners, he also loved reading, traveling, fishing, bowling and golf, and cherished time with his family. He enjoyed playing dominoes, Mexican train and Baseball (cards) and was as competitive as they come. He soundly beat a table of 10 in the last game he ever played. An acclaimed story-teller, he was also a man with an endearing sense of humor, a strong sense of tradition and family values, and a man who often said "I should have been a truck driver" because of his passion for driving (and ability to drive FOREVER without taking a pit stop!).
He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Polly Hilton; his daughters, Paula and partner Chris Manson, and Julie and husband Brian McNabb; his grandchildren Rochelle and husband Bill Kimball, Captain Shawn and wife Ashley McNabb, Krista McNabb and partner Josh Tater, Jessika Kelsh and partner Mat Blessinger, and 1st Lt. Cameron McNabb; and his four great-grandchildren Elizabeth, Aubrie, and Ethan Kimball, and Kaitlyn McNabb; and a host of in-laws, out-laws, nieces, nephews and long-time friends. He is preceded in death by his parents, James Ivan Hilton, Sr., and Julia Dimples Hilton.
The family would like to express our thanks for the compassionate help and care given by Covenant Care as well as the Renalus Center. Visitation will be held at Davis-Watkins Funeral Home on January 5, 2018 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, ending with ceremonial military honors. Condolences can be sent to 506 Mooney Rd. NW, Ft. Walton Beach, FL 32547, or flowers to Davis-Watkins, 113 Racetrack Road NE, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida 32547, and if desired, donations to Sharon Shriner's, 10027 Highway 31 East, Tyler, Texas 75705.
To share memories, express condolences and sign the guestbook, please visit www.daviswatkins.com