Jim Hill, a native of New Jersey, was only 28 years old when he died in the neighborhood of Oak Street the day Hurricane Katrina lashed the Mississippi Coast.
Bonni Phillipsmontowine, of Leavenworth, Kan., says her brother, with whom Hill was staying, believed they would be OK, because they had weathered Camille on the Point.
When the house where they thought they would ride out the storm began to collapse, Hill's uncle and his girlfriend went one way, "And Antoine --- everyone called him by his middle name, no one called him Jim --- went the other. When it was over, they thought he had gone for help. It wasn't until a week later that the coroner recovered his body."
Hill's aunt, who raised him through stretches of his childhood and teen years, remembers a bright child, not the greatest student but smart, "very energetic and really happy. Oh, he struggled with some things --- his relationship with his mom wasn't what he wished it might have been, but as I looked at him as a teenager, he wasn't an oh-my-God-pull-my-hair-out teenager.
"He liked karate, and I have a picture of him dressed up like a ninja," Phillipsmontowine said, "but one of the things I remember most about him is this comical little sound he used to make. Nobody else can imitate it, and it was so funny."
Phillipsmontowine said it's especially painful for her to deal with the fact that Hill was taken "when he was so happy about his life and where he was. He'd been through so much."
"During his eulogies (back in New Jersey) we heard a lot of people say, 'We'd have thought it was an act of man that took him, not an act of God.' He projected this hard exterior. Like 'nothing can touch me,' but he really was tender inside."