George W. Hill, 82, of Springfield, Delaware County, a prison superintendent in Delaware County for 12 years, died of heart failure Wednesday, May 19, at Springfield Hospital.

Mr. Hill began his 50-year career in law enforcement in Delaware County as an officer in the Springfield Township Police Department and was chief when he retired in 1978. He then was elected Delaware County sheriff and later was warden and then superintendent of the Delaware County Prison.

In 1998, the new Delaware County prison in Thornton was named the George W. Hill Correctional Facility in his honor. The prison, with a capacity of 1,500 inmates, incarcerates pretrial detainees and men and women serving county sentences up of to two years and state sentences of up to five years.

After retiring as superintendent in 2007, Mr. Hill consulted for the prison.

"He was trusted by the powerful, celebrated by his friends, and feared by those on the wrong side of the law," said John A. Reilly Jr., who was Mr. Hill's deputy for six years before succeeding him as superintendent. "Although he could be fierce when provoked," Reilly said, "there was never a trace of malice about him."

Mr. Hill's work was his hobby, his stepson, Tom Matys, said. "He was an iron man. He was tough but fair. He believed it was his responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of Delaware County," Matys said.

Mr. Hill graduated from Springfield High School. In June 1945, three months after his 17th birthday, he enlisted in the Army and served in occupied Japan. After his discharge he joined the township police.

Mr. Hill was an instructor at the Delaware County Municipal Police Academy and Delaware County Community College. He was a member of the Municipal Police Officers Education and Training Commission of Pennsylvania and was past president of the Delaware County Police Chiefs Association. He was president of the Delaware County Hero Scholarship Fund from 1991 to 2008 and was a member of the Police Chiefs Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

He enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.

In addition to his stepson, Mr. Hill is survived by a stepdaughter, Diane Price; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter. His wife of 47 years, Wanda Kacprzyk Hill, died in 2007.

Friends may call from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, and from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 26, at the O'Leary Funeral Home, 640 E. Springfield Rd., Springfield. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 26, at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 136 Saxer Ave., Springfield. Burial will be in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Marple Township.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.