Answer Man: Who was Charles Hill, of RCTC theater fame?
Hey Answer Man: You’re a big ham — at least you seem to be acting whenever I see you in public. So maybe you can tell me who Charles Hill was. His name is on the theater at Rochester Community & Technical College, so I assume he was a thespian of some sort. Any clues? — Quizzical
Well, Q, your assumptions are half-right. Yes, I am what I ham in public. It’s part of my (apparently not too effective) disguise. Otherwise, as soon as people learn my real identity, they start pestering me for autographs and consumer advice, and I can’t enjoy whatever it is I’m trying to watch.
You saw the pictures of the Duke basketball coach signing autographs while attending a John Marshall High School basketball game last week? That’s my life when I’m out in public.
Now, about Charles Hill Theatre at Rochester Community & Technical College — one of the best performing arts halls in town. I’m proud to say that I had the opportunity to spend many an hour in meetings with Charlie. Was he an actor? Well, not at my level, of course. But he was college president for almost 30 years, from 1953 to 1982.
During that time, the college grew from 236 students and part of a downtown building, to a 3,200-student, multi-building campus on the east edge of the city.
Besides running the school, Charlie had a weekly Big Band record show on the college radio station. It was fun to listen to him spin discs from the 1940s, and give a little history and background on the songs and the artists. In later years, he would do a live version of the show at a local retirement community.
He was also a booster of the arts on campus, especially the theater program. That’s why the theater was named in his honor in 1987.
After he retired, Charlie could be seen at numerous campus events. In fact, he gave one of the keynote addresses at the centennial celebration of the school in 2005.
Charles Hill died at the age of 99 in 2014.