Longtime ‘Junque Man’ passes away Sunday

Bill Hill, the Junque Man, in his downtown store.

A service for Bill Hill, known for nearly a quarter-century as “The Junque Man,” for his shop of the same name at 175 N. Third St., will be Feb. 13.

Hill died Sunday. He was 92.

The Junque Man store was an outgrowth of his father’s appreciation for yard sales and the like, said his son, Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill.

When his father would bring back his purchases, “Mom would say, ‘That’s nice, but not in the house,’ ” Bruce Hill said.

Bill Hill put the stuff he bought into offices left vacant in the wake of the oil shale bust of 1982.

In 1986, the Hills bought the building that houses The Junque Man and Bruce’s Superior Alarm business and Bill’s second business was begun.

Before The Junque Man, Bill Hill had been an accountant, “But he was in this career for so long that no one remembers that,” Bruce Hill said.

“He saved everything because he felt somebody would need it someday,” Bruce Hill said. The Junque Man “was as much a museum as it was a store.”

Hill frequently would buy back items he sold to homeless people, said Shirley Ann Crocker, who, with her husband, Byron, was a longtime friend.

“Those people were his friends, just like we were his friends,” Crocker said. “Often he was their best friend or their only friend because of the Junque shop.”

There are no plans to keep the store operating.

“It’s going to take some time” before it’s decided what to do about The Junque Man and all the stuff inside, Bruce Hill said. “I don’t see it reopening.”

That means the building will remain, as the sign Hill put on the door reflects, “shut.”

That was indicative of Hill’s approach, his longtime friend and banker, Herb Bacon, said.

“He was a character,” Bacon said.

Hill frequently told stories on himself, said longtime friend William S. Robinson. Robinson’s favorite was of Hill’s wintertime encounter with a charitable woman.

“He was never the sharpest dresser in the world and he was crossing a parking lot when this lady gave him a $20 bill and said ‘Merry Christmas,’ ” Robinson said.

Fearful that he’d give the wrong impression if he chased her down to return the money, Hill gave the $20 to someone else, Robinson said.

Bruce Hill still laughs recalling the time he and his brother, Mark, were called to the kitchen for a stern talking-to at the request of their mother, Dessie, who had been a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital and who taught nursing at what was then Mesa College.

During the discussion, in which Bill Hill was standing with his back to the oven, everyone realized his polyester pants were on fire.

“We started laughing,” Bruce Hill said. “We tried to be serious, but you cannot be serious with your pants on fire, we found out.”

Services will be at 10 a.m. Feb. 13 at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.


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