John J. Hillebrand passed peacefully in his ninth decade. Born in 1929, he joined the Navy in his teens, and traveled the world with his wife Elizabeth during his 22 years of military service. As a Master Chief, he led the people of his squadron, including while deployed during the Vietnam conflict. During the Navy years, he served in Patuxent River, VA; Greenland; Guam; Alameda, CA; Jacksonville,FL; Oahu, Hawaii; Midway Island; El Centro, CA; the Gulf of Tonkin, and San Diego, CA.
John believed in and taught his children the value of hard work, education and personal integrity. At the age of 35, he started night classes to earn his GED, and he later went on to earn a BA. After leaving the Navy, he worked his way up from janitor to Assistant Head of Housekeeping for Kaiser Permanente San Diego, and served in that position for well over a decade. He was a longtime usher at NAS Imperial Beach Naval Chapel. He and Elizabeth resided in the Otay Mesa area of San Diego for over 50 years, and relocated to St Paul’s Plaza in Chula Vista in their late 80s.
When asked “How are you?” John liked to reply “4.9 on a scale of 1-5,” or “Sweet, kind, handsome, lovable…” to which we always replied, “Don’t forget modest.” He liked to describe his height as 5’ 17.” He liked to make puns, sing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling,” listen to Hank Williams, grow fruit trees, and stay at home. He was a loving spouse and later a tender caregiver to Elizabeth, who he married just after she received treatment for and went into remission from tuberculosis. They enjoyed over 66 years of marriage. He gave lifelong moral support to his children.
John is survived by adult children Michael and Gail, and grandchildren Daniel and Mark. He is remembered fondly by his children’s spouses Jaquine and Hugh, his grandchildren’s spouses Jenny and Nina, and his sister-in-law Shirley and her husband Joe. John also had a special connection to his uncle, Brother Bill Xavier, forged while he lived with the teenage Bill and his family from age 2 to 10 after his mother’ early death. John was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth, in 2020, and by his granddaughter Ammie. John’s ashes will be interred at the Miramar National Cemetery next to those of Elizabeth