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Donald's Story

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GLOUCESTER, MA - Donald Ross Hiltz, 76, founder of Hiltz Waste Disposal, Inc., passed away due to Parkinson's disease on Sunday morning, Dec. 17, 2017, at his home overlooking the Annisquam River. He was surrounded by family, including his adoring wife of 35 years, Deborah (Schereschewsky) Hiltz.
Born on Nov. 1, 1941, Donald was the second of six children of Robert C. Hiltz Jr., and Margaret T. (Douglass) Hiltz. His was a happy if hectic childhood, rooted in lessons on the importance of family pride and self-sufficiency. His grandfather, Robert C. Hiltz Sr., had established a small local moving business where Donald and his siblings, following in their father's path, all went to work at a young age. For Donald, that experience with the R.C. Hiltz Company marked the beginning of what would become a lifelong passion. Immediately after graduating from Gloucester High School in 1960, he followed his dream by going into the family business bearing his name.
Donald greatly respected the value of a day's work and the people who performed it. Highly competitive by nature and with a dogged persistence, he took on the challenge of growing the business and did so locally, regionally and even nationally. In adhering to the highest standards of customer service and reliability, Donald earned the loyalty of customers large and small, among them C.B. Fisk Organs, Varian and the U.S. Military. He also set the stage for what many consider the most significant of his many work-life achievements successfully diversifying operations into the waste disposal industry not just once, but twice.
The hallmarks of doing business with Donald Hiltz were always clear, the philosophy never wavering. As he once stated when interviewed in the Gloucester Times, "When you put your family name on the business and on the side of your trucks, you're putting your reputation out there." To be anything less than perfect would be unacceptable.
Donald first took the business into the residential disposal segment of the waste management industry in the early 1970s. Hiltz Disposal Services worked with dozens of North Shore communities and provided jobs with full benefits to countless hard-working Gloucester-area families. As stated by one of the many staff members he employed over 25-plus years, "It was Donald Hiltz, the man behind the name on the side of trucks, who brought honesty and integrity to a profession that had little."
In his singular attempt at taking "early retirement," Donald sold the business to Waste Management, Inc., in 1992. He specifically structured the terms of sale so as to best protect and maintain decades of relationships and community connections. Six years later, however, Donald returned to the business he so loved. Never asking of others more than he was willing to do himself, Donald started Hiltz Waste Disposal, Inc., with a desk, a phone and, once again, the proud family name on the side of a truck. For the next nearly 20 years, did what he loved.
The tenacity marking Donald's professional life was surpassed only by the vibrancy and generosity marking his personal life. He typically slowed down only when forced to do so... as was the case when he first met his future wife, Deborah. While recovering from surgery at Addison Gilbert Hospital, Donald met his match in a beautiful nurse as strong-willed and fun-filled as he was. Theirs was a love that would last nearly 40 years.
With their marriage in 1983, another dream was finally realized for Donald as he assumed responsibility for two young stepsons, Peter and Michael Camp. More than anything else, it was the joy and contentment of providing for his family, whether in his beloved Gloucester or at the home in Alton Bay, N.H., that truly brought Donald full circle.
He believed in loyalty, and in giving back to the community. Donald applied time and talent to numerous local projects and philanthropic endeavors, among them the funding of an Oncology Room at Addison Gilbert Hospital, in honor of his parents. Countless friends, employees and even total strangers experienced his generosity and willingness to step up at the unexpected moment in unexpected ways without ever asking for anything in return.
Donald loved all things boating, especially his 40-foot Magnum he named 40 Karats. He created a lifetime of memories for the many who joined him and Deborah traveling waterways up and down the East Coast. And if not at work or on the water, he was likely playing cards, watching a Patriots game or entertaining with family and friends usually to the music of Elvis or B.B. King.
Donald enjoyed fine Scotch and good food, especially vanilla ice cream. He liked to look good and play hard. He cherished a good sense of humor, loved nothing more than have a great laugh with friends and thrived on a full day's work. He respected and valued his employees and appreciated his customers. But most of all, he loved and honored his family in all that he did.
As the effects of Parkinson's began to take hold in 2013, it was with a heavy but courageous heart that Donald relinquished the reins of Hiltz Waste Disposal to his family. Though difficult, he knew it was the right thing to do, and he did it with a grace that underlined the kind of husband, father, brother and man that he was. Donald leaves a proud legacy.
He is survived by wife, Deborah of Gloucester, and stepsons, Peter S. Camp of Portland, Maine, and Michael H. Camp and his wife, Jennifer of Beverly, Mass., along with their three boys cherished grandsons, Jackson, Ryder and Easton. He is also survived by his older brother, Robert C. Hiltz III of Las Vegas, Nev.; younger brothers, Douglas A. Hiltz and Gary J. Hiltz of Gloucester; and sisters, Paula J. Hiltz and Marianne C. Hiltz, also of Gloucester. In addition, he will be sorely missed by nieces and nephews, David Hiltz, Kenneth Hiltz, Hollie (Hiltz) Garvey, Tammy (Hiltz) Fish, Samantha Hiltz, Sabrina Hiltz, Jonathan Hiltz and Alden Hiltz Tarr.
Visiting hours will be Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington St., Gloucester. The funeral service will take place at 11 a.m., Friday, Dec. 22, at Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church, 10 Church St.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Donald's memory to either the Michael J. Fox Foundation, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014; or to Cape Ann Animal Aid, 4 Paws Lane, Gloucester, MA 01930.
Online condolences may be given at greelyfuneralhome.com.
Published on December 19, 2017
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