Dan Hillman

 

Dan Hillman

Dan Hillman, who died on 11 July, typified the consummately professional journalist who could turn his hand to anything involving the dexterous use of words. Born in October 1930, he followed the traditional route of those times: grammar school, junior on a local newspaper, national service and then stints with national and international news agencies as reporter and deskman.

From the late Sixties his skills flowered as a feature writer and editor. He edited Export Times and was launch editor of Business Traveller magazine as well as writing much of their content. After they changed hands he became a freelance from the mid-Seventies onwards, interrupted by a spell as editor of a freight magazine launched by the National Magazine Company.

His work rate was prodigious. Freelance associate editor and contributor to Executive Travel, editor of Overseas Trade, joint editor of Export Today, editor-writer of a variety of special supplements and contributor of innumerable articles to a range of periodicals and newspapers. It seemed that for anybody casting around for a piece on any aspect of travel, export or international transport the answer was, "Ask Dan Hillman".

Fellow journalists admired and envied his output, which he appeared to achieve almost effortlessly, following the old precepts of style, accuracy and compactness. His two-finger typing was faster than most trained touch-typists could manage and he attacked the keys with a gusto that often did them damage.

Hillman was mentor to many who followed in his footsteps. Numerous editors and freelances today are indebted to him for the guidance he willingly gave and the work he put their way.

Despite a long and increasingly debilitating illness, he carried on working through his 60s until he became virtually bed-bound for the last 12 months. A prolific reader of novels, history and current affairs, his mind was alert and his sense of humour remained keen. Like all good journalists, he was inquisitive to the end and, while lying apparently unconscious in his hospital bed, he suddenly opened his eyes to ask: "What’s happening in the Archer trial?"

He leaves a widow, Jan, their son Ben, three children by a previous marriage (Peter, Michael and Jane) and many, many friends.

Robin Cobb

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