biographical data

James Whitney Hill biography: 13 things about Minnesota native killed by Russian shelling in Chernihiv, Ukraine


James Whitney Hill was an American citizen living in Ukraine. Here are 13 more things about him:


  1. He was born in Minnesota, United States. He lived in Eveleth, Minnesota and in Driggs, Idaho, USA. He owned property in Idaho near Yellowstone National Park that his brother rented out as an Airbnb when he was not there.
  2. He is Katya Hill and Cheryl Hill Gordon‘s brother. Both of their parents are buried in Fort Snelling, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
  3. He is Kai Troje Hill‘s father.
  4. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in River Falls, Wisconsin, USA. 
  5. In 1996, he moved to Kyiv, Ukraine. He would spend half the year in the U.S. and the other half in Ukraine. He lectured about forensic psychology at universities in different European countries including Ukraine. He was an associate professor in the foreign language and philology departments of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice, Czech Republic and a visiting lecturer at American Common Law Center in Kyiv.
  6. In January 2006, he joined MCI Management Center Innsbruck in Innsbruck, Austria as a guest lecturer.
  7. On September 18, 2011, he joined Szkoła Wyższa Psychologii Społecznej (SWPS) University in Warsaw, Poland.
  8. He became romantically involved with a former student named Irina “Ira” Teslenko. They met while he was teaching forensic psychology at universities in Europe. In 2013, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
  9. On September 18, 2014, he joined Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in Kyiv as a lecturer.
  10. Amid the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which started in 2020, he lived in Kyiv with Teslenko.
  11. In December 2021, he travelled from the U.S. to Ukraine.
  12. In January 2022, he found a doctor in Chernihiv, Ukraine who knew much more about multiple sclerosis than other doctors in the area. When Russia started invading Ukraine on February 24, 2022, he, Teslenko and Teslenko’s mother were in a hospital in Chernihiv where Ira was set to be treated to stabilize her multiple sclerosis.
  13. On March 14, 2022, he wrote on Facebook, “We could try a break out tomorrow but Ira’s mom doesnt want to. Each day people are killed trying to escape. But bombs falling here at night. Risk either way…I only have wifi a few hours a day.We have enough food for a few days..” On March 15, 2022, he wrote on Facebook, “Not allowed to take photos. Spies throughout city Bombing has intensified noway out” and “Intense bombing!still alive. Limited food. Room very cold.ira in intensive care.” On March 17, 2022, he and several other civilians were waiting in a bread line in Chernihiv when they were killed by Russian shelling. He died at the age of 68.

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