Evans, GA – Mrs. Dena M. (Gray) Hilliard, 78, passed away Friday, July 17, 2020 at Doctor’s Hospital. Dena was the loving wife of Robert D. Hilliard for 51 wonderful years, which was just celebrated on June 28.

Dena was born February 24, 1942 in Grove, Oklahoma, to Wilbur and Elta (Betts) Gray. She graduated from Pittsburg State University and began her teaching career as an English teacher in Belton, MO. Receiving her Master’s Degree in Special Education from George Peabody/Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee, her degree emphasis was teaching the visually impaired. For twenty-four years Dena was a Special Education teacher at Wichita, Kansas and Shawnee Mission, Kansas, with eighteen of those years at Windsor Springs Elementary in Augusta, Georgia.  Speaking often of her students and colleagues, she enjoyed every year of her teaching career.

Dena was able to visit most of the states in the United States. She especially enjoyed a family planned three-week trip to Alaska with her brother, Arden (Collen) and a three-week family trip to Hawaii with cousins, Lynn and Jan Markel. She and her husband, Bob, made three trips to Europe with the first guiding students through five countries over five weeks and two more recent trips to Western and Eastern Europe. Her last trip was two weeks in Canada visiting Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. It was a second trip to those provinces.

With all of the above, Dena loved Edisto Island, South Carolina. She had forty-six years of experiences shared with family and extended family. Each year was the same and each year was different. Each year was special.

Having recently returned to the Augusta area with her husband this past January, Dena loved reconnecting with our extended Eisenhower Drive family. She loved shopping with her daughter, Anne and being teased by her grandson, Owen. She had wonderful memories of trips to Fargo, North Dakota and time with her son, James and grandchildren, Abby and Charlie.

She is survived by her husband: Robert D. Hilliard; twins: daughter, Anne Gray (Jeffrey) Gagnon and grandson, Owen of Evans, Georgia; her son: James J. (Elizabeth) Hilliard, granddaughter, Abigail and grandson, Charles of Fargo, North Dakota; brothers: William Arden (Collen) Gray of Pittsburg, Kansas and Ted (Sue) Gray of Grove, Oklahoma and sister-in-law: Kaye (James) Gray of Grove, Oklahoma and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.

Her body will be interred in Grove, Oklahoma near her family. Plans are pending for a family service to be officiated by long-time extended-family friend, Pastor Carolyn Capers Moore. The family requests that friends sign the guest book and leave memories and condolences at www.thomaspoteet.com.

Thomas Poteet & Son Funeral Directors, 214 Davis Rd., Augusta, GA 30907 (706) 364-8484.