The business acumen of Larry Hill has a direct relationship to the business community of today
Lawrence “Larry” Victor Hill was born on February 18, 1921, in Oscalosa, Iowa to Charles and Laura Hill. He was highly active in sports, lettering in football, baseball, and basketball while in high school. He received a degree in Physical Education while attending college in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduation he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942. Hill was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the Purple Hart for his service. Hill married Rushelle Meyers and after an honorable discharge from the military they moved to Milwaukee in 1946.
That same year Hill became one of the first African American restaurant owners when he opened Larry’s Chicken Shack in the heart of Bronzeville at 619 W. Walnut Street. Known for having a great barbell-shaped counter the shop would later be named Larry's Lunch-ette, eventually adding frozen custard to the menu. With a specialty in southern fried chicken, Larry’s Lunch-ette championed a moniker of “Where Chicken is King and Frozen Custard Queen.” In 1959, Hill opened “Larry’s Big Daddy Chicken Shack, located at 2245 N 12th St. While maintaining his business ventures, Hill also worked at the Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee for over twenty years until he retired. As an avid reader with excellent oratory skills, Hill was known throughout the city for reciting eloquent poems. He was also an advocate for community service by mentoring youths and even running for political office in 1967. Until his death in 2002, Hill was committed to community service.
The Milwaukee Bronzeville Histories team argues while local and federal policies severely disrupted the vitality of the Bronzeville community in the 1950s, the legacy of the historic neighborhood remained a beacon for future generations to draw upon as they shaped their paths in Milwaukee. In 1951, Larry Hill was an active member of the Business Advancement Association, also called the Walnut Business Group. This organization assisted in fostering vibrant and productive business interactions within the community. In 2021, seventy years later, Ray Hill, grandchild of Larry Hill, was selected as executive director of Historic King Drive Business Improvement District No. 8, an organization fostering vibrancy within community business interactions. Larry Hill, along with many other members of historic Bronzeville, have directly influenced Milwaukeeans of today by offering their paths as guides to creating vibrant communities.