In Memoriam: Henry L. Hillman

Nationally prominent business and civic leader Henry Lea Hillman died in UPMC Shadyside on April 14, 2017, at the age of 98.

A quiet, unpretentious pioneer in private equity investing, Henry  Hillman was an imaginative, far-seeing philanthropist whose gifts have enhanced and strengthened Pittsburgh, his home, through its medical, educational, research, and arts institutions as well as its human and social services initiatives.

At the time of his death, Mr. Hillman was chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of The Hillman Company, the business he transformed from its industrial-era origins into a broadly diversified global investment holding company headquartered in Pittsburgh and owned by the Hillman family.

“Working for Henry was a great privilege,” says Shadyside Hospital Foundation chair H. Vaughan Blaxter III, who was chief counsel of The Hillman Company. “As a businessman, he exhibited great leadership, fairness, foresight, wisdom, and integrity. He had an amazing ability to see the big picture but never lost sight of the detail. He was a remarkable man of incredible intelligence, charm, and an unparalleled sense of humor, who has left Pittsburgh a better place.”

Mr. Hillman was the devoted husband of Elsie Hilliard Hillman (1925–2015), civic and political leader, philanthropist, and activist. Both he and Mrs. Hillman (who was a founding director of the Shadyside Hospital Foundation) had a longtime, personal interest in Shadyside Hospital. Their family members served as trustees for generations, quietly advancing the Hospital and acting as “talent scouts” for new leaders. Their daughter Audrey Hillman Fisher, granddaughter Nina Fisher Hamilton, nephew James F. Hilliard, and niece Patricia M. Duggan continue to serve as Foundation directors. No other Pittsburgh hospital can trace such a caring family heritage.

Among the best known of the Hillmans’ many philanthropic activities was the lead gift, through the Shadyside Hospital Foundation, to create the Hillman Cancer Center on the Shadyside Campus. Always forward-looking, Mr. Hillman hoped that this gift, and his subsequent gifts, would not only help create one of the country’s great cancer centers but also help Pittsburgh by attracting the best and brightest physicians and scientists here. That is exactly what has happened — and it also has accelerated the growth of UPMC Shadyside into one of the top hospitals in the nation, where patients come from around the world for leading-edge, compassionate care.

In the Hillmans’ honor, UPMC announced that all 50-plus cancer center locations within its global network would be renamed UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “This new name, which honors the integrity, high standards, and vital contributions of Henry and Elsie Hillman, underscores our commitment to systemwide quality and innovation at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center,” said Jeffrey A. Romoff, president and chief executive officer of UPMC. “We are honored to share the Hillman name.”

The Hillmans’ children, Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds, Audrey Hillman Fisher, Henry Lea Hillman, Jr., and William Talbott Hillman, gave a generous gift to the Foundation to honor physicians who cared so compassionately for their parents: Eric Anish, MD; Robin Girdhar, MD; Stanley Marks, MD; and Saul Silver, MD.