December 10, 2013 – We recently learned that our friend Herman Hill passed away last Sunday, December 8, 2013. As you can imagine at 93 years old, or close to that, death can come quickly and sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes at that age you go to sleep and simply never wake up. I for one am in full support of that option for my ultimate demise on this earth. Not so much for Herman as he continued to drive on Baja, and that is how he came to his end, tragically in a car accident near San Quintin on Hwy 1 (we speculate).
For some time Herman had been prohibited from driving in the US and could no longer take his regular spins from Bahia de Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back, we know he did this a couple of times at 90. We had thought he had agreed to restrict his driving to Bahia de Los Angeles, a village of 800 with one main drag 4 blocks long, apparently not so. Who was at fault we do not know, Herman’s driving skills were not the sharpest and driving on Baja is unforgiving. Hopefully others were not badly injured in this incident.
Herman was born in Los Angeles, California about 1920 and when the depression hit his family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. This move and growing up in Vegas would shape the future of Herman’s life and character for sure. He spent time in the Navy during WW II but his real passion was prospecting and that is how he ended up on Baja for decades. For Herman it was all about the gold, and from time to time, the ladies. He always found gold, most prospecting and some it is speculated, lost Jesuit gold, how much he accumulated we may never be known. Certainly to go to Las Vegas on a regular basis and drive a newer car (although sometimes they looked old fast). Herman wrote a book in 2008, BAJA’S HIDDEN GOLD Treasure Along the Mission Trail, which chronicled Herman’s life story and pursuit of gold on Baja and elsewhere.
We first Herman at our friends, Antonio & Bety Resendiz’s home in Bahia de Los Angeles, we have known Antonio since 1985. What a character. On the cover of his book Herman proudly states “I don’t need any damned testimonials. It is a hell of a good book, and if they don’t want to buy it, that is their loss!” Herman had become a staple feature on our tours in LA Bay, always happy to see everyone, spins a couple of yarns, tell his famous 240 beans story and ask people to reach into a box and seemed surprised when they pulled out his book which he could sell them and also sign the copy. Baja is a lesser place today with the loss of Herman Hill, it was real privilege to have had the opportunity to meet him and introduce him to others.
Rest in peace Herman.