Oklahoma-born author Tony Hillerman died Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M.. He was 83. Hillerman had been in failing health for several years.
Hillerman was author of at least 18 Navajo tribal police mystery novels, two children’s books, four books of photos and his 2001 memoir, "Seldom Disappointed.” He edited or contributed to more than a dozen other books.
He was born May 27, 1925 in Sacred Heart to August A. Hillerman, a storekeeper and farmer, and Lucy Grove Hillerman. He attended school at St. Mary’s Academy, a boarding school for Indian girls near Asher from 1930 to 1938. The school admitted local farm boys as day students.
Hillerman told The Oklahoman
in a 2002 interview that he wouldn’t be writing about Navajos if he hadn’t grown up in Pottawatomie County. There he learned American Indians are like everyone else.
"They are my kind of people,” he said.
After graduating from Konawa High School in 1942, Hillerman served in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Purple Heart. He attended Oklahoma State University and received his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1948.
Hillerman worked at several newspapers, including a stint as city editor for the Morning Press-Constitution in Lawton from 1948 to 1950, and as a political reporter for United Press International in Oklahoma from 1950 to 1952.