“It was really beautiful the way she passed on,” said Charles Keppel, her neighbor and caretaker in recent months. “She was surrounded by her son, daughter, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. You couldn’t have asked for her to go in a more peaceful way.”
Hill, a 2007 recipient of a Milley Award, made a name for herself in the 1960s and 1970s as one of the pre-eminent photographers of the thriving Bay Area music scene, snapping classic shots of the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan. She was equally prolific later in life, publishing in 2007 “Mill Valley: Then & Now,” which contrasted early images throughout Mill Valley with her own modern photos of the same places.
In 2011, she created the “Mill Valley at Work” exhibit that featured workers at places like the Mill Valley Market, whose employees Hill said were “like family to me.”
“She’s a sweetheart lady and she takes beautiful photos,” Mill Valley Market co-owner Doug Canepa said when Hill unveiled her exhibit with a series of vinyl banners on the side of the Throckmorton Theatre. “She really knows how to capture the heart and soul of people.”
Here is an obituary submitted by her family:
For 50 years, Suki T. Hill’s photographs documented the world’s musicians and her Mill Valley neighbors. Her book, “Mill Valley, Then and Now,” celebrated the latter (and their forbears).
Suki spent the night of June 13 at home with her brother Ted, her daughter Abigail, her son Zachary, her daughter-in-law Sara, Abigail’s partner Laura, her grandkids Lyla and Giovani, and the man she described as her “stalwart of stalwarts” Charles Keppel. On Saturday morning, 12 days shy of her 73rd birthday, she died peacefully, surrounded by Abby, Zack, Sara and her beloved grandchildren.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Suki moved to Mill Valley in 1965 after earning a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of California. Earlier she earned a bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence. She always said it was her fellow members of the Muir Woods Park Improvement Association – ardent hikers all – who re-awakened her muse. Soon her photographs appeared on album covers, posters, magazine and newspaper articles and fashion ads, and, in time, art exhibits.
Suki was also a portrait photographer who captured her subjects’ character in a way that prompted them to smile and say, “you got me.” Music to her ears and this was a source of many clients in her later years. In fact, she continued to create discerning photographic portraits even after she was diagnosed with the cancers that caused her death.
Her daughter and son plan to host a memorial service in mid-July. Those who think they might like to attend should email Zachary Hill at email@example.com or Abby Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org for date, time and place. They ask that those who wish to make a memorial contribution direct it to St. Vincent’s in San Rafael.
A lifelong friend sums up what a lot of people’s experience may have been with Suki, “You have been an angel in my life, a driving spirit. Made me stronger, made me believe in magic, bliss and encouraged a constant sense of wonderment in the world, arts, creating and being surrounded by beauty and beautiful kind people.
“We love you madly Suki! You will be missed dearly!