From Texas to Colorado
By Jeff McClenahan
John Roy Hilliard was born February 7, 1924 in Irving,Texas. His father, Rev. J. Roy Hilliard was a Methodist minister and his mother, Nora Ruth Hilliard, was a public school teacher. After attending a number of public schools in Austin, Robstown, and Kerrville, the number a result of the nomadic life of a minister, John graduated from Tivy High School (Kerrville) in 1941. In the Fall of this year he started classes at the University of San Antonio (USA). In 1942 USA merged with Trinity where John continued his studies until joining the army in 1945. After a year in the US Army of Occupation in Japan, he returned to complete his B.A. in Biology in 1947.
During his undergraduate work at Trinity, John became associated with Prof. F.B. Isley. Prof. Isley was studying grasshoppers at this time and would later become the father-in-law to Dr. Gordon Alexander. Under Prof. Isley's guidance John developed an interest in grasshoppers. This interest led to his enrollment in the University of Colorado's Biology department as an MA student under the tutelage of Dr. Alexander. Once his course work and thesis on grasshopper food preference were complete he was awarded an MA after which he returned to Texas. He entered the University of Texas as a PhD candidate and in 1959 received his PhD in Zoology.
Dr. Hilliard's association with the Alexander Project started at Trinity with his introduction to Prof. Isley and later blosomed under Dr. Alexander at the University of Colorado at Boulder. During the summers of 1958-1960 Dr. Hilliard assisted with an extensive survey of the grasshoppers that were found along an elevational gradient within Colorado's Front Range (Alexander and Hilliard 1969). This project resulted in the processing of thousands of grasshoppers and led to the creation of a very important voucher collection. This collection is now housed in the CU Museum of Natural History's Entomology Section.
Dr. Hilliard's CV includes professor of biology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, professor and head of biology department at McMurray College in Abilene, TX, and National Science Foundation Research Fellowship at University of Texas. He currently resides in Huntsville, Texas with his wife Joyce and will celebrate his 57th anniversary Christmas Day, 2007. They have two children, Dr. Richard Alan Hilliard, currently at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and Maj.(retired) James Ronald Hilliard, currently at the National Emergency Response and Rescue Center, Texas A&M University.