Chance Robert Hilliard was born April 18, 1984 in Kalispell, Montana. He was the third son born to Caral (Wood) and James Hilliard of Libby. Chance grew up in Libby, and graduated from Libby Senior High School in 2002. Following graduation he worked in the woods as a logger and equipment operator along with his father and brothers in their family business, Hilliard Logging.
In recent years he has been working in the construction business running excavator for several companies including Blattner Energy, Minnesota Limited and Loenbro Construction. Chance took great pride in his work and had traveled to several states over the last few years.
It is hard to capture the true spirit of a person with just a few words at the end of their life, especially someone who brought so much love and happiness to his family and friends but we will try.
Chance was fun, and had an infectious smile. He liked nothing more than spending time around a campfire with friends, going cruising in his pickup truck listening to music or just spending quiet time with his family. He made friends easily and if you were lucky enough to be his friend – he was there for you no matter what. They say you don’t really know how many lives a person has touched until something like this happens. The family has been overwhelmed with the number of people who shared stories of how Chance had befriended them in a time of need, or just plain showed them a good time.
Chance was a daredevil. He came by that naturally following in the footsteps of his Dad, big brothers and even his mother. They all “Dared the Lightning” as it says in the old Bellamy Brothers song. Together they raced “Legend” cars at the Kalispell Raceway Park, participated in demo-derby’s and there was always a four-wheeler, speed boat, motorcycle or truck somewhere in the Hilliard household to keep three boys and their friends from being bored and drive the neighbors crazy. Lastly, he worked his whole life as a logger or operating heavy equipment in construction, both inherently dangerous occupations.
Chance was kind, caring and loyal to a fault, sometimes to his own detriment. He could not pass up someone or something in need. His mom liked to think he tried to live his life in such a way that if anyone spoke badly about him, nobody would believe it.
Chance, like the rest of his family, loved animals. There are lots of stories about the number of dogs and cats he brought home. You never knew what other type of animal might show up, including baby deer in his bedroom and baby ducks in the bathtub. There was also talk about a few stray chickens and the occasional hedgehog or ferret running around the house. One of the family’s favorite stories is when Chance was very young, he found out the neighbor was raising rabbits not as pets, but to eat. More than once, he took his allowance money and bought the rabbits from the neighbor to set them free.
Chance was all about family. While he loved the holidays when everyone got together, he especially loved growing up with family as part of his everyday life. His dad, brothers and cousins were his friends, his grandparents, aunts and uncles his support system. It was a good way to grow up.
Most importantly, Chance was a Daddy. On November 30, 2010 Topper Robert Hilliard was born. The light of his life from day one, Chance would say that his greatest achievement was being a father to his son Topper (named after his great-grandfather Topper Wood). While in recent years his work on the pipeline kept him away more than he would like, he and Topper had a very special relationship. They were like two “peas in a pod” and it was always fun to watch them together. Chance also cared deeply for his fiancée Jaclyn’s daughter Kira.
Chance passed on August 9th as the result of a tragic motor vehicle accident. He is survived by his Son Topper Robert Hilliard, Parents Jim and Caral Hilliard; Brothers Sean Hilliard (Rebecca) and Bryce Hilliard (Jenna), Sister Jenny May (Willy) and their families including nephews Steven, Wyatt, Jackson and niece Lauren. Jaclyn Perez and her daughter Kira Lee.
Chance left behind his Grandmother LaDonna and Step-Grandfather Virnie Mack. Aunts and Uncles: Karen and Bob Stickney; Gary and Kathy Wood; Joe and Colleen Wood; Diane and Mike Morris; Bryan and Sue Egland; Marvin and Doris Eichert; Wayne and Marilyn Lacy; Charlie and Janice Gardner. Cousins Matt Wood, Brent Wood, Cody Wood, Jourdan Wood, Brenna Chvilicek, Jill Rooney, Gary Wood, Ryan Wood, Pat Wood, Shandi Hilliard, Jason Hilliard, Buddy Morris and Randi Morris.
Step Aunts and Uncles: Frank and Pam Mack; Keith and Betty Mack; Robin and Alan Henderson; Doris and Mike Langley; Carol Weir; Cindy Peek; Jim and Patti Regh and their families. Last but not least, his “bonus family” the Pipeline workers who he met along the way.
This brief synopsis of Chance’s life does not come close to encompassing who he was and how he affected those around him. While he didn’t live a charmed life and his path was not always easy. Those who knew him will always remember his infectious smile, eternal optimism and his ability to make a friend wherever he went. He is greatly missed already.
His mother’s wish is that all of those who loved Chance or were touched by something he may have said or done, will remember to “Pay it Forward”, and that if the opportunity comes our way we take the “Chance” to do something kind in his memory.
(Services were held on August 16th at the Libby Christian Church. Internment followed at City of Libby Cemetery. Those who might wish to give a memorial in Chance’s name can send it to Wings Regional Cancer Support at P.O. Box 1160, Libby, or Kootenai Pets for Life at 125 County Shop Road, Libby.)