June 26, 2005 The St. John Community Foundation has a new face at the helm. Martha Hills took over as president from Lonnie Willis in May.
Hills, 62, said she faces a few challenges, including keeping both the glass recycling project on track and the group's planned civic and cultural center moving forward.
"It's fun to feel that whatever I do, I'm making things better for St. John," she said, relaxing on the porch of her Estate Carolina home.
The Salem, Ohio, native and her husband, Gerry, moved to St. John five years ago from Hawaii, but this was not her first stint on St. John. Along with her children and a previous husband, Hills first visited in 1975, staying at Cinnamon Bay Campground.
"I fell in love with the island - with the water, the beaches and the local culture," she said.
Hills, along with her children and former husband, moved from their home in Washington, D.C., to spend the late '70s and early '80s as St. John residents.
In order to expose their children to a larger world, she said they moved away from St. John and settled in Hawaii.
After a divorce, she and her current husband met through her job, developing quality measures for a Hawaii hospital.
"When I met Gerry, I told him about St. John. He had never been there," Hills said.
The two began chartering boats out of Tortola, visiting every couple of years until the time was right to make the move. On the way back to Hawaii from one of their sailing trips, Gerry Hills was reading a St. John newspaper when he noticed that Mahogany Tree Villas was for sale.
She said they talked it over only briefly before her husband flew back to St. John to buy it. The couple ran the house and its three rental units for five years until they sold it in April.
Although Hills isn't employed, she's one busy woman. In addition to her post on the Community Foundation board, she writes book reviews for a St. John newspaper, is a member of the Middle Age Majorettes, sings with the St. John Singers and is studying Spanish.
"And I love to read," she said.
She also loves to travel and has a September trip to Paris on her agenda.
Hills said she enjoys making trips to visit her four sons: Scott and Andy Libert, 40 and 38; and Scott and Jason Hills, 28 and 26.
Visits with her granddaughter, Jasmine Libert, 11, are also a highlight. Hills said that Jasmine will arrive next week for a two-week visit.
"I'm enjoying being a grandmother," she said.
She also noted that she enjoys her relationship with her sister, Cynthia, a Sister of Mercy nun living in Pittsburgh.
"After we became adults, I discovered how much we have in common," Hills said, ticking off their love of the holistic lifestyle and an interest in tai chi as shared interests.
As for 10 years from now, she said she expects to be doing pretty much what she's doing now.
"I feel like I'm where I ought to be," she said.
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