Shelby Simpson Hillman, a true southern lady of deep faith, grace, beauty and charm, went to be with her Lord and Savior on Dec. 26, 2019. She was the daughter of Shelby R. Simpson and Clara Starnes Simpson and was born in Brewer, Ark., on June 19, 1937. She graduated from Stuttgart High School in 1955 and then attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas) where she was a member of Delta Zeta sorority. On July 6, 1957, she married her high school sweetheart, Tommy Hillman, and was the ultimate farmer’s wife of 62 wonderful years.
She was a vital part of the growth and operations of Hillman Farms and together they were named North Arkansas County Farm Family of the Year in 1967. Additionally, she was active in many church, community and state organizations. Based on her commitment to her faith, she started and taught Carlisle First United Methodist Young Adult Sunday school class for over 20 years. Shelby took a keen interest in others’ personal advancement through education and in children’s wellbeing. She proudly served on the Arkansas State Board of Education for five years and presided as chairman for one year. She was the driving force in establishing the Open Arms Shelter in Lonoke, Ark., and it was a vehicle for her to inspire service to others. Shelby lived a life of service and did everything with a positive disposition, which was an inspiration to all that encountered her.
She was loved by everyone who knew her and was adored by her family. Her faith in God sustained her throughout her life and she dutifully imparted His truths to her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her husband, Tommy Hillman, whose love, admiration and devotion to her was unmeasurable; two sons, Hal Hillman and wife Barbara and Rich Hillman and wife Tina, all of Carlisle. “Mimi” was adored and cherished by her grandchildren, Trip Hillman and wife Caroline, Christopher Hillman and wife Lauren and Emily Crawford and husband Drew, all of Dallas, Collin Torian of Carlisle, Caroline Davis and husband Brad of Conway, Ark., Drew Weddle of Little Rock, Ark., Ben Weddle of Nashville, Tenn., Tyler Weddle and wife Melissa of Lowell, Ark., and Seth Weddle and wife Meagan of Miami, Fla.; and great-grandchildren, Blakely, Brooks and Brigham Weddle. Other survivors include her Aunt Helen and Uncle Leland Carle of Stuttgart; sisters, Audrey Ferrari of Carlisle and Mary Sue Gurley of Olive Branch, Miss.; and brother, Johnny Simpson and wife Scottie of Lakeland, Tenn.
The family is extremely grateful for the devoted, loving care provided by her precious sister Audrey throughout her courageous battle with cancer, as well as the staff at CARTI Cancer Center in Little Rock, Ark.
Visitation will be at Carlisle First United Methodist Church Monday, Dec. 30, at 10 a.m. A memorial service honoring Shelby’s wonderful life and legacy will immediately follow at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in her memory to the Open Arms Shelter in Lonoke, Ark., or the Carlisle First United Methodist Church Senior Food Pantry.