Ingrid Hill, my wife of almost 40 loving and wonderful years, died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 1, 2024. Even today as I write this to inform people, I do so through constant tears, as I am days later, still in unbelieving shock of her passing. She was found on our kitchen floor by a neighbor, most likely the result of a sudden coronary or cerebral event. Given her life of healthy living, exercising, and eating, I am having a hard time accepting that these kinds of things happen to even the healthiest of individuals.

She was a woman of extraordinary compassion for others, and loved her work at the Oral Cancer Foundation which she cofounded with me in 1999 right after I came out of cancer treatment at MDACC. I don’t think that I would have survived those months of treatment and complications were it not for her support and constant care. I’m a terrible patient. She particularly liked helping the many family members or current patients of this same cancer who contacted OCF on the phone, and the many years as caretaker to me through more surgeries and treatments after my initial diagnosis plagued my life, gave her a wealth of practical advice and knowledge about the disease and coping with treatment side effects. She was very well versed and experienced to help them. Of course, she was also the backbone of the financial aspects of OCF, and a core part of the support team working directly with the many volunteers that help the foundation put on awareness/walk events around the country each year.

We met when we were both employed at a dental implant company in the earliest years of those becoming accepted treatment modalities. Meeting her I knew immediately that she would be part of my future life. She was a rare mixture of beauty, intelligence, emotional strengths and understandings, and a person who saw the good in everything. I fell short of equaling her in many of these areas. We became immediately inseparable and lived together for a few years before tying the knot. I decided to spin off from that company and start my own implant company, and Ingrid readily came with me to help run the new venture. We sold that implant company 7 years after starting it to a big pharma company. When the auditors came in to go over the operational, financial, and FDA records, they said they had never seen a company so well organized and documented. That was all her, not me.

She was adventurous, and things that dominated my personal life she quickly adapted to and made her own. Becoming a pilot, a certified SCUBA dive master, rock climber, skier of runs that I even shied away from, and so much more. She had no fear and would try anything, excelling and mastering it. On a cold very early morning, riding our two Harleys back to SoCal from Mammoth Mountain in Northern California on a deserted straight highway, I decided to roll on the throttle. I wanted to see what she would do. Speed increased past 100, hit 120 and still climbing, and there she was on her Harley right next to me calm and relaxed. She never would back down, and if I had kept increasing speed, I knew she would not slow down or back off. That’s the way she approached life. There was little that she would not try. There was little she did not conquer and master. We both loved flying, and aerobatics in particular. She would do spins until I was beyond any desire to do more. Throttling back to idle, letting a wing drop until the plane flipped over on its back and started spiraling around and around towards the ground. Then calmly entering the right control inputs to set things straight again, returning to normal flight.

When we were at OCF fundraisers with lots of A-list celebrities, she chatted with them as if they were old friends and had an encyclopedic knowledge of their lives and work in movies, stage, and other media that she prepped for. She easily won them over. Unlike me, she dressed the part of wherever she was. With them, she looked and spoke like them, and then there was me, the brown shoes at a formal event. She was a sight to behold. Drop dead gorgeous, but equally socially adept and comfortable. And she was all mine to be proud of. She attended tons of my lectures at universities around the country. She could do my technical science presentations after hearing them so many times as well as I could. She was a sponge for information. I often wondered how I was so lucky to have convinced her to marry me.