Obituary of Wilma Stephens Hill
Wilma Stephens Hill and her twin brother Walt Mast were born at home, on November 10, 1928, to parents Floris & Ruth Walter Mast and older brother Ed Mast. Wilma grew up on the family farm near Esparto, California, during the hardships of the Great Depression, but her parents still felt music lessons were important, often paying for them with farm goods. Wilma graduated from Esparto High School as valedictorian of her class. She then majored in music education at College of the Pacific and obtained her teaching credentials at Sacramento State University.
Wilma and her husband Don Stephens moved to Oroville with their three young daughters at the beginning of the Oroville Dam project. They opened the Spudnut Hut, a breakfast and lunch restaurant, and provided bagged lunches to the workers headed to their jobs at the dam. Wilma soon began teaching elementary school and music education in Oroville Elementary Schools, bringing her love and passion for music to scores of children throughout the district in a long and treasured career. During this time Wilma obtained her Master’s Degree in Music Education from Chico State and attended the Kodaly Institute in Hungary. Many of her students fondly remember the Kodaly method of learning rhythm: “ta-ta-titi-ta”. Wilma also taught students in the Music Education program at Chico State for two years.
Wilma led a rich social life through the years, belonging to the Paradise Symphony Orchestra, Gourmet Club, Bridge Club, Oroville Republican Women’s Organization, Community Concert Association, Retired Teachers’ Association, and especially her beloved PEO Sisterhood. Her participation brought so many dear and wonderful friendships that she cherished throughout her life. Wilma had a great love and curiosity about the world, traveling to Europe, Israel, Africa, Peru, and throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. After retirement she and her second husband, Jim Hill of Hill Furniture, enjoyed the coast, camping, RVing, and canoeing at Jim’s favorite spots on the Feather River. Wilma and Jim fulfilled their dream of owning a beach home in Morro Bay and loved spending long days at the beach, as well as sunsets with wine and fresh crab. Wilma had a lifelong love and relationship with her Lord and Savior Jesus, and she now resides for all eternity with Him. She had a strong and steady love for her church family at Foothill Community Free Methodist Church.
Wilma is survived by her daughters Alisa Jones Stephens (Ray) of Granite Bay, Mary Stephens-Bell of Lynnwood, WA, and Martha (Gary) Braaten of Oroville, grandchildren Nathan Jones, Lindsay Jones, Jessica Bell, Tracy Bell, Michael Braaten, Emily Ibeji, seven greatgrandchildren, with special mention of her Danish “son” Kjeld Hammer, who lived with the family as a young man and loved Wilma like a mother.
Services will be held on Friday, November 15, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Foothill Community Free Methodist Church, Oroville, followed by a reception at her home. She will be interred at the Mast family plot at the Capay Cemetery, Esparto.
In her memory, Wilma would love for you to carry on her passion for music by thinking about how music has enriched your life, playing or listening to your favorite song, attending a performance, or encouraging a child’s music education.
Arrangements entrusted to Ramsey Funeral Home. (530) 534-3877
Ramsey Funeral Home
1175 Robinson St.
Tel (530) 534-3877
Fax (530) 534-6238
Oroville Funeral Home
1454 Montgomery St.
Tel (530) 533-0323
Fax (530) 533-0822
Gridley-Block Funeral Chapel
679 Ohio St.
Tel (530) 846-2138
Fax (530) 846-2897
At Ramsey Funeral Homes, our focus is to help the living successfully navigate the Acute Loss Period, the crucial time between the event of death and the onset of grief.