William Blanks Hilgers

31 diciembre , 192417 julio , 2020

Bill Hilgers passed peacefully out of this life at 95 on July 17, 2020; but this was not the first time Bill had faced death. At the age of 18, he survived 30 bombing missions over Germany, crash landing on the last mission in Belgium. Later, he survived a gas pipeline explosion, a hunting accident, a raging, thousand-pound cow, and beat cancer not once, but three times. Bill was a tough guy! However, when cajoled into talking about his life, Bill said that he never expected to live past the war, so every day since has been a gift.

Bill was born on December 31, 1924 in Lockhart, Texas, the son of Harry Hilgers and Minnie Jo Hilgers. He was predeceased by his sister, Catherine Hewlett and is survived by his brother Harry Hilgers. He graduated from Lockhart High at 16 (where he excelled in debate and music) and was accepted at the University of Texas in Plan II (where he sang opera and played the trumpet in numerous bands). However, the happy school life ended when Bill lied about his age in order to join the Army Air Corp and serve as a bombardier navigator. After the Belgium crash, in the spring of 1945, Bill was sent to Big Spring, Texas where he met the enchanting Sara Lamun on a blind date. Bill, who was no dummy, immediately recognized his good fortune and they were married in December of 1945. Their marriage was a happy and successful one until Sara predeceased him in 2014 at the age of 92.

After the war, Sara and Bill moved back to Austin, where he returned to UT, studying accounting and law while continuing his interest in music as an avocation. After opening up an accounting firm with his father Harry, he began a sixty-five-year career as a lawyer with an emphasis on corporate, tax, and estate planning. In 1977, Bill founded the law firm, Hilgers & Watkins, where he worked alongside his long-time partner, Tom Watkins, to improve the disciplinary process of the Bar. Bill was passionate about legal ethics and served as chair of both the Travis County and the Texas Bar Association Board of Directors. He was a founding director of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism. Recently, the Austin Bar Association named their new building, “Hilgers House”. He had too many important people in his life to mention, but one that must be acknowledged is his lifetime friendship with Justice Thomas Reavley.

Bill’s interest in music never waned. He sang in his church choir for 40 years. He served on the Boards of KMFA and Austin Symphony, as well as the advisory board of Conspirare. Most important to him was his service on the Board of the James Dick Foundation and Festival Hill at Round Top. Bill invested hundreds of hours helping the Foundation get off the ground and flourish. His friendships with James Dick and Lamar Lentz at Round Top were two of the most important in his life. He was at his happiest sharing a concert with Sara at Round Top.

Underlying most of what he did, Bill also had a deep spiritual life. This life centered around the University Christian Church where he was a Life Elder and founding member. If this was not enough, he was also Chair of the Texas Bible Chair and served as the President of the Christian Church of Texas. Long an advocate for the study of religions, Bill worked to establish the Foundation for Religious Studies at the University of Texas.

Bill was an unrelenting force for good during his life. An advocate for justice, equal opportunity and community development, even in his waning years he was looking for worthy causes to support. A complete list of his community service is too large to include, but these are a few. He fought for school integration during the 1950s. He was Chair of the Del Valle School Board for six years. He was appointed Chair of the Human Opportunities Corporation during President Johnson’s War on Poverty. He was a founding board member of the Travis County Legal Aid Society. He served on the Lola Wright Foundation Board for 30 years. Bill also had the good fortune to become a founding director of the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation. While Sara lead the initiative, Bill helped her in the founding of the Elroy Community Library and the East Travis County Library District.

Another of his eclectic passions was organic farming. For most of their married lives, Bill and Sara lived on a working farm two miles north of Elroy, Texas just outside of Austin. Stoney Point Farms, true to its name, was always a challenge but Bill, along with Alex Smithwick, his trusted farm manager, was successful in raising organic crops for the cattle and horses. Bill was constantly trying new complicated ideas and plans (some more successful than others) to transform Stoney Point to a state-of-the art organic farm. He was never more excited than when talking about some new concept promising to solve a soil deficiency.

Bill is predeceased by his wife, Sara and his son John. He is survived by his three children; Sara, Paul (Nancy), and David (Joan); his grandchildren: John Michael, Sydney Hilgers Popovich (Jason), Lauren Hilgers (Taylor Price), Kelly Winship (Adam), Matthew Hilgers (Heather), and Blakely Scott (Aaron). He is also survived by his great grandchildren: Aster and Isaac Winship, June and Zella Hilgers, Maedee Scott and Vincent Hilgers. He is also survived by very loving nephews and nieces who meant a great deal to him.

The family would like to give special thanks to the staff at Westminster Manor, particularly Patricia Wilson and Yolanda Cabrera for their miraculous kindness and care.

The family will plan a Memorial Service when it is safe to do so. In lieu of flowers, please make any donations to the James Dick Foundation or KMFA.


William Blanks Hilgers


Ed Scharlau

9 enero , 2021

So often I am chatting on the phone with someone in Austin and Bill comes into the conversation. Happened several times in the past week. It was my delight to work with Bill on a homeless project as well as the Foundation for Religious studies. Moved from Austin to Iowa in 2018 and have out of touch. Memories are so strong. Just had so much respect.

Pat Luna

5 septiembre , 2020

David, Paul, Sara and family,
You were all such a big part of my life when I worked so many years for Mr. Hilgers during the '80s. He was the most kind and gentle attorney I had worked for, and I loved him very much. My heart goes out to all of you and I know how proud you are of him for all his many accomplishments during his lifetime. He was a bigger-than-life figure and I will never forget the privilege of being his "right-hand assistant" for a decade. May your memories of your beloved dad and mom give you comfort during this time.
Pat Luna

Robert Mezquiti

11 agosto , 2020

Mr. William B. Hilgers was an exemplary, incredibly influential and extraordinarily kind human being. I had the good fortune of meeting Bill and Sara while assisting with a few of his very many organic farming ideas.

I looked forward to our meetings at Stoney Point or anywhere else we would find ourselves dreaming up ideas on how to be better stewards of our environment. I came away from each meeting hoping I would have the same enthusiasm and energy as he did everyday of his life.

I have no doubt he will live on through the memories of his dear friends. I am the most privileged and fortunate to have met this giant of a man and will miss him dearly. He has truly left and indelible mark on us all.

Mike Kennedy

7 agosto , 2020

David,Paul and family- I am so saddened to know of your dad Bill’s passing.
Knowing him since 1985, he was always quietly impressive with his observations , wisdom ,generosity and caring.
The affection for the firm with his dear partner Tom Watkins was evident in all the interactions I was fortunate to have with him.

Bill’s positive impact on behalf of all the clients and non profit entities he supported and advocated for and the community at large is an honor few men can demonstrate.
Bill was a good man.
The acorns don’t fall far from the tree and you all demonstrate the the same in my opinion.
Please accept my deepest sympathies for your loss.
Wish you peace in this difficult time.

donn fullenweider

31 julio , 2020

Bill Hilgers was a wonderful man and a consummate lawyer. He set the ethical standard for those in the legal profession and always offered to help others. We served together on the Board of the Texas Bar and became friends. We tried one case together and I learned a lot from Bill. I looked to Bill for ethical advice. His wisdom was always helpful.

Max Barclay

27 julio , 2020

Bill Hilgers was a wonderful man who I had the pleasure of knowing for most of my life.I have so many fond memories of growing up with the Hilgers family spending time with my lifelong best friend son Paul. I feel very fortunate to one be one of the many extended family members of the entire Hilgers family.My heart and love goes out to the entire family.❤️Max &Nancy Barclay

Gary Lopez, Sr.

26 julio , 2020

On behalf of the family of Herminia (Minnie) Lopez (deceased),
We offer our most Sincere Condolence to Paul and all of the Hilgers family. I met Paul and Mr. Bill Hilgers when my Aunt Minnie passed away. I learned that Paul and my Aunt Minnie were dear friends and that the Hilgers family welcomed her as part of the Hilgers family. Mr. Hilgers personally assisted our family after my Aunt Minnie's passing. Paul continued to reach out to us long after her passing. The Hilgers family has been and will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Bill Fitzgerald

26 julio , 2020

He was was as good and decent and talented a man as I ever knew.
I am proud to have been one of his many friends.
Rene and I send our most positive thoughts to his family.

Tom Coopwood

26 julio , 2020

So sorry to hear about Bill. He was always so nice to me remembering my family in Lockhart. His brother Harry and sons David and Paul are also fine friends. We will all mourn his passing. What a great man!!!

Tom Forbes

24 julio , 2020

Bill Hilgers was a wonderful example of what it means to be a friend, advisor, leader and professional. I met Bill at the beginning of my career and was fortunate to be the recipient of his advice and thoughtful wisdom. He was generous with his time and always available to visit, offer advice and counsel, and share good stories. I am one among many who have the good fortune to call Bill my friend.
Tom Forbes