Tommie W. St. Hill Sr., a noted Philadelphia journalist and political consultant, died Friday, Dec. 23, 2022. He was 70.
The native son of North Philadelphia was born June 24, 1952. He was a graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School
“Tommie was everyone’s friend. His booming laugh and infectious personality filled every room,” his family said in a statement released to The Philadelphia Tribune. “He could go from the streets of North Philly to the corridors of City Hall energetically shaking hands, spreading love and bestowing his unique wisdom. Our hearts are completely broken, he will be sorely missed and forever loved.”
St. Hill served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1969 to 1972, where he was a scout sniper in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart.
Returning from his service in the military, he attended Temple University and later graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Afterward, he began a career as an investigative journalist, working for The Philadelphia Tribune and Philadelphia Journal and a number of radio stations, mostly covering breaking news and politics.
“I first met Tommie St. Hill after I took over the political reporting beat at The Philadelphia Tribune from him in the late 1990s,” former Tribune staff writer Vincent Thompson said.
“As I got to know Tommie more as a person over the past 30 years, I learned a lot from him. Tommie was a one-of-a-kind individual in the city known for its interesting people,” said Thompson, who is now communications director for Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson.
In 1991, St. Hill became the director of communications for U.S. Rep. Lucien E. Blackwell and later his chief of staff.
In 1996, St. Hill became CEO of St. Hill and Associates, which at the time was awarded the largest debt collection contract from President Bill Clinton’s administration, covering over $100 million in U.S. Department of Education debt and making his company the largest minority-owned collections agency in the country. Before that, he had a large collections account with Philadelphia Gas Works. At one point, his company was servicing more than $1.5 billion in debt, netting 13% to 30% of that for itself.
St. Hill told the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2000 why he chose that line of business: "There was money in it," he said. "We're in this business to get rich. When we started to grow we knew it was a huge opportunity."
“Tommie St. Hill was one of the best political reporters I’ve ever been around,” said Barnett Wright, executive editor of the Birmingham (Alabama) Times Media Group, who worked with St. Hill at The Tribune in the late 1980s. “Tommie had more sources both at the grassroots level and in City Hall combined than any other reporter in the city at that time. What made it remarkable was that he knew them all and they all knew him. His ability to build those relationships also served him well later as a successful businessman as president and CEO with his own company.”
For many years after that, St. Hill became a political power broker as the president and CEO of RCS Diversified Consultants LLC, playing significant roles in electing governors, mayors, Congress members, Council members, judges and officials at every level of government in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Additionally, he served as a key political consultant for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 98, an influential Philadelphia union while it was led by John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty.
In his retirement, he taught a weekly journalism course at the Mathematics, Civics and Science Charter School in Center City.
“To me, his legacy will be his strong love of his family, friends and the people of Philadelphia, especially the African-American community. I will miss him and I express my deepest condolences to his friends and family,” Thompson said.
His survivors include his wife Jetta St. Hill, eight children, 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
St. Hill’s wake will be held Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Met, 858 N. Broad St. The funeral services will be Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at 10 a.m. at The Met.