Dr. Stuart Hilwig: Celebrating a Teacher, Father, and Friend

Rachel Heaton
The Paw Print

Lenient, humble, unique, generous, fun, knowledgeable, irreplaceable, and one-of-a-kind. These are just some of the words used by Adams State students to describe Dr. Stuart Hilwig.
The Adams State community still mourns the loss of Hilwig, a Professor of History at ASU, who was killed in a car accident on Sunday, Oct. 28. His two children, Charlie and Jack, are still being treated at the University of New Mexico hospital. Hilwig’s wife, Dr. Stephanie Hilwig, was not in the car at the time of the accident. Stephanie Hilwig is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Adams State.
Hilwig joined the Adams State community in 2000 after earning his bachelor’s degree at Vanderbilt University and his PhD at Ohio State University.
Dr. Ed Crowther, the chair of the History, Government, and Philosophy department, still remembers the process of hiring Hilwig. When he took Hilwig into a classroom to observe him, Hilwig was far more interested in interacting with the students than interacting with the person hiring for the job, interested in the students from the very beginning.
Crowther said that Hilwig really enjoyed teaching. “As opposed to saying it, that’s what he really loved to do. He had a well-deserved following because he was an outstanding instructor. He loved being an historian, but he loved teaching students even more than he loved history.”
People also noted Hilwig’s strong desire to be a husband and a father. Together, Stu and Stephanie Hilwig had three children, Xandra, Jack, and Charlie.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, Nov. 6, Adams State student and faculty as well as Alamosa community members gathered at the south entrance of the Student Union Building (SUB) to honor and remember Hilwig.
The memorial began with a performance by ASU’s chamber choir under the direction of Beth Robison. Adams State Present Dr. David Svaldi then welcomed everyone and spoke about Hilwig’s professional accomplishments and about what he meant to the ASU community.
Svaldi also shared a piece of advice for the faculty present at the memorial. He told them that if they wanted to be great teachers, all they needed to do was “follow in Stu’s shoes.” Several other people impacted by Hilwig then shared stories or memories of him.
Dr. Mike Martin, chair of the sociology department, spoke about when Hilwig first joined the Adams State staff. He said that many people had taken the young Stu Hilwig under their wings with the idea that “It takes a village to raise a Stu.” He continued, saying, “The problem is we got that backwards. It takes a Stu to raise a village, and most of that village is here today. His presence was a joy and his absence will be a void.”
Mari Centeno, an Associate Professor of Political Science, spoke next. She talked about how she and Hilwig were like siblings. “The lesson I’ve learned too late,” she said, “is never take those you love for granted.”
Centeno, like many others, remembers him for his sense of humor and how he would never stop making jokes. She also wants him to be remembered for his “brilliant mind.”
Dr. Rob Demski, an Associate Professor of Psychology, then told the crowd about a time when he and Hilwig had gone canoeing down the Rio Grande. As they were floating down the river, Hilwig suggested that they become “one with the river.” In the end, they did become “one with the river” when their canoe tipped over.
One student talked about how Hilwig had helped to set him on track when he was having a hard time with school. He described Hilwig as “one of the most compassionate people.”
Another student said, “Stu made me laugh every day in class.” She talked about how he dressed up as Darth Vader for Halloween and attempted to incorporate the character into his lecture.
Crowther referred to Hilwig as “maddeningly lovable” and laughed about his sense of humor. He said that there is work to create a Stu Hilwig Scholarship.
Other students remembered Dr. Hilwig was always happy, positive, enthusiastic, and influential. One student even admitted that “I dug through the course catalog to take anything and everything I could with that man” regardless of what the course topic was. He said that Hilwig “will stand forever as a testament to what it is to be a phenomenal teacher.”
Danny Ledonne, an Adjunct Instructor for English/Communication, shared Hilwig’s power to make people feel welcome. “I would like to pass that on, to make someone a little more welcomed” because that is what Hilwig did for him.
At the memorial, and throughout the week in the SUB, photos of Hilwig and his family were displayed. There was also a piece of paper where people could leave a message. Stickers with a photo of Hilwig were passed out to the crowd to wear in his honor.
It is not hard to see that Dr. Stuart Hilwig touched many lives in his years here at Adams State. A website, stuarthilwig.com, has been set up where people can donate funds to the family or leave a memory of Hilwig.
So now, moving forward, as one of his students so eloquently put it, we are challenged to “Keep the memory of Professor Hilwig alive.”

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