‘It’s just a piece of him’: Teen asks for return of Alabama bench missing from her father’s graveside

Local News
October 02 2021 06:00 pm

DOUBLE SPRINGS, Ala. (WIAT) — After her father died in 2017, Brooke Hill would sit at a bench by his grave to update him on the things going on in her life.

Now, Hill is asking that the bench, which is missing from her father’s graveside in Double Springs, be returned to where it belongs.

Brooke’s father, Ricky Hill, died in 2017 at age 57 from a heart attack. His daughter, who was a 14-year-old middle schooler at the time, was heartbroken. Her father’s death had mixed impacts on her life.

“Well, after he passed away, I fell into depression and I started going to therapy,” Hill said. “But it also just kind of made me want to do more, with my grades and stuff. It was just more motivation for me because I need to feel like he’s proud of me since he’s not here to say he’s proud of me.”

Hill’s diploma and graduation regalia draped over her father’s tombstone (Courtesy Brooke Hill)

Hill eventually graduated from Mary G. Montgomery High School in Mobile, an achievement that she thinks would have made her father proud.

Brooke Hill liked to update her father on her life, about things like her graduation, while sitting on the bench at his graveside. The crimson Alabama bench had been moved from Ricky Hill’s home to Fairview Cemetery after his death.

“It’s just the fact that at one point he sat there, and with it being right in front of his grave, it’s like when you sit there, it’s just a piece of him, like he’s there with you. Even though he’s not in it, you’re already there, and makes it feel like he is, too.”

Hill remembers her father, who was a truck driver and devoted Alabama fan, with love.

Brooke and Ricky Hill riding in his crimson and white Peterbilt (Courtesy Brooke Hill)

The smile in her voice was evident as she recalled riding with her father in his crimson and white Peterbilt listening to Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller” album on repeat. Eventually, the bumps of the open highway scratched the CD to the point it wouldn’t play.

But that didn’t stop Ricky Hill.

“He went and he bought the exact same album,” Brooke said, laughing. “And he put it in and played it over and over and over again.”

Now, Hill wants to recover another token of her relationship with her father: his Alabama bench.

She said that she has not and will not file a police report about the missing bench because she doesn’t want anyone to get in trouble. She just wants their help getting the bench back to her father’s final resting place. She is offering $100 for its return.

“I understand that people hit hard times, and they get desperate for things. But I just don’t want them to destroy it. I will meet them somewhere, or I will go to wherever they are, and I will pick it up with absolutely no police involvement. I will not put their name out there. I will not do any of that. Nobody will ever know but me.”

If you have information about the whereabouts of the bench, please contact CBS 42 at lhedgepeth@cbs42.com, and we will put you in contact with Brooke Hill.

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