AUGUSTA — Franklin Charles Hilton, 88, of Norridgewock passed away peacefully June 10 at Togus Springs in Augusta, surrounded by his loving family.

He was born in Norridgewock on Dec. 9, 1929, son of Ralph B. and Lora (Yeaton) Hilton. Frank grew up in Norridgewock and graduated from Madison High School in 1947. He volunteered in the U.S. Army Signal Corps serving in Germany during the Korean War in 1951-53 with an honorable discharge.

Frank met his wife, Shirley (Jackson), at the Farmers Fair dance at the University of Maine after being introduced by Frank’s sisters. After a friendship and courtship, they were married March 20, 1954. Frank and Shirley started farming together in a partnership with his parents in Norridgewock on Sandy River Road. He was married 63 years to Shirley, who predeceased him by nine months.

Frank and Shirley ran a very successful dairy operation for over 50 years. Through their hard work and innovative farming practices, they grew the family farm from a few head of cows to the operation it is today. The awards they received for farming included the Maine Dairy Farmer of the Year award in 1969 and the Maine Industry Leader award in 1994 in recognition of their lifetime achievement in farming. Frank was instrumental in lobbying the Maine Legislature to form the Maine Milk Pool in the 1980s.

Frank was president of the Maine Holstein-Friesian Association in 1968-’70, served on the Somerset County FHA loan advisory committee, and was a deacon and board of trustee for the First Congregational Church. He was a catalyst in the annual church chicken barbecue and pig roast.

They left a farm legacy to a third generation of Hilton family farmers in Norridgewock, selling the operation to one of their sons, James, and his wife, Elizabeth.


Frank was a hard worker and instilled his work ethic in his four children. He worked on the farm up to the age of 80 and lived on the farm until he died. He was always interested in the farm activities and wanted a “daily report” from his sons. He loved telling stories of growing up on the farm, about his youth and the many characters that he encountered.

In later years, Frank and Shirley enjoyed winter trips to Florida and exploring the West Coast states. Frank’s life was enriched greatly by his four children, six grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

He is survived by his children, Thomas Hilton and partner, Carol Axtell, Oakland; James Hilton and wife, Liz, Norridgewock; Ann Cavanaugh and husband, Dan, Klamath Falls, Oregon; Judith Tuttle and husband, George, Benton; his six grandchildren, Jesse Hilton, Ben Hilton, Alex Hilton, Dr. Shannon Hilton, Robin Thompson, Samantha Pelkey; and many great-grandchildren; his sisters Ellen Savard, Caroline Sturtevant, Polly Andrews and Mary Shorey; and his brother, Bernard Hilton; and many special nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his wife; his parents; his sisters Rena McAllister, Louise Varnam and Jennie Hilton.

Special thanks to Dr. Richardson and Mary Beth, whose concern and care for Frank helped him live with his lifelong health issues. The family would like to also thank Togus Springs Hospice for their kindness and care in his final days.

Franklin C. Hilton

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