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Peace to our ‘Sis,’ Lorna C. Hill

Author: Mary Kate O’Connell

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” – Sojourner Truth 

The WNY air is filled with love, prayers, gratitude, memories & the awesomeness that was/is Lorna C. Hill. I always loved that her name reflected her demeanor perfectly … Lorna “C-Hill.” She was very Chill. 

This was one of Lorna’s magical powers that drew us to her. She was very cool. 

Very funny.
Very honest.
Very true.
Very present.
Very dedicated.
Very spiritual.

When I planned to start my own theatre company, Lorna patiently listened to me as I expressed all my fears, insecurities, and dreams of why I wanted to form O’Connell & Company. 

She would nod her head and add a “Gottcha” every once in a while. After I was done expressing these feelings and thoughts, she said, 

“Listen, sis, you got this. Remember to always tell your True Story and keep going forward.” 

She was a powerful force who encouraged me to follow my dream. She had a gift of making all of us feel loved, important and supported.

Lorna called so many in her circle, “Sis.”

It was a badge of honor, really. Each time she called you “Sis,” you felt that you were the only “Sis” and the only one she wanted to talk to at that moment. I remember one time when I helped Lorna and Rahwa  Ghirmatzion sell Lorna’s handcrafted jewelry at an arts event of some kind. We three spent the entire day laughing and telling stories and creating a very memorable sister circle.

In 2003, Lorna joined my production of “The Lysistrata Project” – The first ever world wide theatre event for peace. This was a staged reading of the 2,400 year-old Greek comedy Lysistrata. We had a huge cast of amazing women. After the first night, Lorna gave me a hug and said, “This really something, Sis.” It was and she was. 

Lorna came to a special DIVA by DIVA …  performance, not terribly long ago, and at the curtain, she stood and shouted “BRAVA!” (“Lorna likes us! She really likes us!”) We were all floating on air. I mean, it was Lorna!

Each time I see that loving message, “Rest in Peace, Lorna.” I think to myself, of course, she will ‘Rest in Peace’ because Lorna lived it, and spread it, and spoke it, and taught it, her whole life.

I’m honored to celebrate my friend, Lorna C. Hill along with all of WNY. 

I’ve asked O’Connell & Company members Geri Grossman, Mary Moebius, and Julianne Panty to share a thought or two about their dear friend, as well:

“I will always be inspired by Lorna, not just her talent and her intelligence (both of which were formidable). It was her dedication to the future in the form of the young people she mentored and inspired, and her dedication to justice, which was always featured in her art.”  – Mary Moebius

“I am always amazed at the wonder that is Lorna; my sis, artist, teacher, and messenger for truth. Plus Lorna’s the only person I know who could play the harp!”Julianne Panty

“She is loved and respected by so many, I can only hope that we will take the time to know her through her theatre, her family, her words, and her work. We can honor her greatly if we embody and embolden Lorna’s vision for a better Buffalo, a better people, and a better self. Her presence held you up, supported your essence. I will miss her with all of my heart… every day.” – Geri Grossman

Lorna, you will always be one of my special SheRoes.

Peace, my dear Sis!


Mary Kate O’Connell is the Artistic | Executive Director of O’Connell & Company Productions, which celebrates their 25th Anniversary Season this year. 

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