Amarillo’s first quadruplets turn 40

No one could remember the last time Brent Hill, Chase Hill, Ryan Hill and Charlie Hill were in their dad Randy’s vehicle together. Suffice to say, it had been a long time—since the early 1980s—when Randy and JoBeth carefully strapped all four boys into four car seats. Later, they graduated to piling in themselves, climbing over one another, accidentally kicking someone in the face, and probably squeezing poor Sarah, their little sister by 2 ½ years.

By high school, the four boys had their own modes of transportation, so traveling elbows to knees was less frequent.

Yet here they were, the first quadruplets born in Amarillo, now grown and piled into their dad’s extended cab Chevy Silverado on July 10 of this year. Randy and JoBeth blindfolded the men, taking them on a twisting and turning ride from their childhood home on Renegade Trail in the Rolling Hills neighborhood to … somewhere.

It was the night of their 40th birthday. Four decades earlier, four boys weighing less than three pounds each arrived minutes apart by Cesarean section on July 10, 1983, at Northwest Texas Hospital. 

“We obviously knew something was going down,” the oldest, Ryan, says about the blindfolded drive. “We got three crammed in the back seat and one in the front with my parents. My dad was driving erratically trying to confuse us, and I’m getting a little bit of motion sickness hoping this ends pretty soon.”

They finally stopped at JoBeth’s sister’s home. Lyn Anderson is the boys’ aunt. Fittingly enough, she owns Parties & Events in Amarillo. The parents led the four into the backyard for a truly one-of-a-kind party and event. 

More than 200 guests gathered in Anderson’s backyard, some of whom the Hill quads had not seen for 20 years. There would be few expenses spared. After all, it was a unique and historical birthday celebration, the recognition of an event Amarillo had never seen.

“Let me tell you,” Ryan says, “It was pretty epic.”

First Three, Then Four

JoBeth Wanderscheid and Randy Hill knew each other while at Palo Duro High School in the 1970s. Randy was two years older, graduating in 1975. JoBeth graduated two years later. They soon began dating and, in 1978, they married.

After a stint with United Parcel Service, Randy found work as an electrician at Pantex, where he would spend the next 40 years until retiring in 2018. JoBeth served as the secretary for the director of nursing at High Plains Baptist Hospital.

They weren’t in a hurry to start a family. “We wanted to have kids,” Randy says, “but we rocked along for about four years and it was just not happening. We both were tested and they couldn’t determine if it was me or JoBeth that was the issue.”

Dr. Daniel Schwartz, JoBeth’s OBGYN, suggested a fertility drug—and not an especially strong one.

“Dr. Schwartz told us that there wasn’t much more of a chance of having multiples than I would if I got pregnant naturally,” JoBeth says. “Randy’s dad was an identical twin, but we didn’t think it was worth mentioning. It was just something to help us get pregnant.”

The pregnancy happened in the winter of 1982. Within a month, JoBeth was showing enough to wear maternity pants. 

“I didn’t know if that was unusual,” Randy says, “because I had nothing to compare it to. I thought, ‘Well, she’s pregnant and starting to show.’ Looking back, it seemed kind of quick that she was showing, but at the time, it didn’t seem odd.”

At 20 weeks, JoBeth had a routine sonogram, and its results were anything but routine. There were three fetuses in her womb, three distinct heartbeats. Schwartz put her on complete bed rest.

Randy and JoBeth’s minds spun with joy and anxiety. Triplets? Whoa. About five weeks later, another sonogram brought another surprise. Someone had apparently been hiding in the first sonogram. This one revealed conclusively that JoBeth was carrying a relay team. There were four little Hills inside.

At that point, Schwartz escorted JoBeth through a tunnel that, at the time, connected High Plains Baptist Hospital and Northwest Texas Hospital. Bed rest at home was no longer enough. She’d get hospital care until the delivery.

“They showed Randy the fourth one on the sonogram and it was pure adrenaline,” JoBeth says. “You could see my heart beating through my shirt. It was just a complete and total surprise.”

She was excited but not worried. “I knew that God would take care of them, and everything would be fine. I had what I considered the best obstetrician in Amarillo.”

Ignorance is bliss, and a renewed reliance on God propelled the couple forward. “The blessing is we didn’t have a clue as to what we were in for,” Randy says. “We started going back to church regularly. It made me turn to God and pray that everything would come out all right. 

“We had an excellent doctor and great support system. We both had good jobs. So that part of it was great. But we were still a little bit insecure. We didn’t know what we needed to do,” he says.

Schwartz, in fact, specialized in high-risk pregnancy. “It was so good I had him,” JoBeth says. “I just did every single thing he told me to do and didn’t do one thing he told me not to do.”

Tragically, Schwartz, 45, was among several Amarillo doctors and nurses killed four years later in a plane crash in Rwanda. Nine of 14 who perished in the 1987 crash were Amarillo medical professionals who had gone to study the habits of African gorillas in hopes of learning more about the development of human infants. 

“It was just so hard,” JoBeth says. “We adored him.”

Making Hospital History

At 30 ½ weeks, it was time for the birth by C-section. On July 10, 1983, the Hills made history with the first quadruplet birth in Amarillo. According to the organization Mothers of Super Twins, twins represent one out of 83 births. Triplets are one in 6,889.

Quads? It jumps considerably to one in every 571,787 births.

A birth between 29 and 33 weeks is defined as “moderately preterm,” and the boys were definitely premature. Ryan Neil arrived first, weighing in at 2 pounds, 11 ounces. The rest came within minutes and in descending weights—Chase Phillip at 2 pounds, 6 ounces, Charles Dale at 2 pounds, 2 ounces and Brent Daniel at an even 2 pounds.

Randy got a quick look at each of his four sons before they were whisked away to the neonatal care unit, NICU. The Hills hadn’t learned the babies’ gender in advance, and had some girls’ names selected just in case. The names were assigned from oldest to youngest—Ryan, Chase, Charles and Brent. 

The boys weren’t identical, not that it would have mattered to a mother and father. “To others they might look the same, but we never got them confused,” JoBeth says. “Their cries were different. There was just enough difference that we could tell.”

There were health concerns, as there would be with any baby born small and premature, but the four of them came through each stage like they had places to go and things to do. But, boy, were they tiny.

“I was a little apprehensive at first to hold them because they were so small,” Randy says. “I’d never been around a whole lot of babies to begin with. When you think about a human who is 2 pounds, their little old legs were about the size of my finger, and I’m not a big guy.” 

JoBeth spent a week in the hospital after delivery, which was as long as insurance would cover. It was hard to leave her babies behind, but each of the quads had to reach 4 pounds and pass other health markers before they could leave. Ryan, the oldest and largest, came to his new home on North Osage within a week. Charlie and Chase joined them a couple weeks later. Brent developed an eye issue and had to be flown to Dallas for treatment. Once that cleared up, the last of the Hills came rolling home.

That’s when the fun really began.

90 Diapers a Day

Before the birth, Randy and JoBeth and their families had begun planning like the Allies getting ready for D-Day. Fortunately, both sets of grandparents lived in Amarillo—Dale and Lee Wanderscheid and Neil and Karalee Hill. Though a little older than average grandparents, they were eager to commit financially and physically. “Our parents were around and helped us all the time,” JoBeth says. Her sister, Lyn, was also at the ready, but Randy’s siblings lived elsewhere.

Local stores donated baby beds and mattresses. Pleasant Valley Methodist Church volunteers came to the home at different times to help, and the church took a specific offering for the young family. Pantex arranged a plant-wide push for financial donations, plus an extra one through the electrician’s union in which Randy belonged. Other businesses contributed, too.

“I don’t remember the sum of money. I just remember it being a big help,” Randy says.

The story soon spread across the city and Panhandle. The Amarillo Globe-News had a front-page story on the quads. KAMR produced a special report. Even legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey mentioned the births on his national radio show.

Time became a challenge. There are only so many minutes in a day—or a night—and most of them had to be devoted to the care of four babies. The boys had to be fed every four hours, around the clock, and it took about an hour to feed all four. At some point, the parents had to find a few hours of sleep. “For Randy, that was tough after being at a job all day,” JoBeth says.

Finances were another issue. Through a sales rep, Dr. Nathan Goldstein, their pediatrician, was able to get them free formula for an extended period. Goldstein also gave the Hills a 75 percent discount on visits, charging only one visit for the four.

For a long time, thanks to some formula-based stomach issues that took time to resolve, the quads went through 90 diapers a day, 600 diapers a week, and more than 30,000 diapers in the first year. Those numbers will make any parent’s head spin.

At the same time, the couple’s little Honda wasn’t going to be able to fit four car seats and two parents. Randy traded it for a 1977 Plymouth Gran Fury, a small tank on wheels. A “Blues Brothers car,” Randy called it. It soon gave way to a passenger van, which reliably took Ryan, Charles, Chase and Brent to the doctor or church in those early years.

Home was initially a three-bedroom on North Osage near Travis Middle School. The house had a converted attached garage as a living room and an added bathroom. The cribs for Ryan and Chase went in one room and Charlie and Brent in the other, an arrangement that remained until they all left home.

The family settled into a routine—often hectic and challenging but one that JoBeth and Randy managed with help. In July 1984, the quads celebrated their first birthday. On the cake were four playing cards, aces of the four different suits, and the words “Four of a Kind.”

Less than a year after the quads’ first birthday, JoBeth became pregnant with Sarah. “Yeah, can you believe it?” Randy says. A fifth child had the Hills house-hunting. They bought a lot in Pleasant Valley and built a bigger home on it when the boys were 2 years old. JoBeth’s parents were just around the corner, and Lyn lived nearby.

“We were like The Waltons,” Randy says.

Never a Dull Moment

It may not have been fully established how the Waltons washed clothes back in the 1930s, but the amount of laundry took an early toll on the Hills. The family went through three washing machines in two years. They ended up buying a commercial washer.

The boys began school at Pleasant Valley Elementary, splitting into two classes of two brothers. Other than a matching set of childhood Dallas Cowboys jackets with embroidered names, JoBeth refused the allure of matching outfits. “No, they were different people with different personalities,” she says. “You could tell they were brothers, but they were different.”

“Thank God we never dressed alike,” Brent says. “My mom had the wherewithal not to dress us up like four Twinkies.”

When the boys were in fourth grade, the family moved for the third and final time to a larger house on Renegade Trail. From there the boys, and later Sarah, attended Willow Vista Elementary, River Road Junior High and River Road High School.

A full household meant no one was ever lonely or bored. “I’m not going to lie,” Brent says. “It was not like any other experience. Whether it was cops and robbers or turning our bedrooms into WWF wrestling and jumping off the top rope that was the bed frame, it was really neat. It was always a lot of fun. Never a dull moment.”

There was always something to do. “You always had teams for sports by default. Everyone was always doing something different. You could always relate to everyone, mainly because we were all exactly the same age,” Chase says. 

The boys’ different personalities and interests became clear in high school. Charlie and Brent wrestled at River Road. Within two weight classes of each other, they often went at it during practice. The others participated in cross country and basketball.

“Growing up and doing everything together, they could not be more different,” Sarah says. “All have wonderful big, loving hearts and would give you the shirt off their back if they had to. That’s the way our parents raised us. But they really are different.”

Reaching Adulthood

As the little sister, Sarah had her own interests and friends, and was a cheerleader at River Road. Her brothers offered built-in protection. “In high school, I was just starting to date, or at least be interested in boys,” Sarah says, “and there was this one boy they didn’t like. One time in the cafeteria, one of my brothers opened up one of those chocolate milk cartons and poured it on his head and walked away.”

Not surprisingly, Sarah didn’t date regularly until her brothers graduated.

“We were all super close to her,” Ryan says. “You would think when you are the youngest sister of four older brothers, you’d be the ultimate tomboy. It was the opposite with her. She was about as girly as it got.”

The four all went first to Amarillo College and branched out from there. Sarah ended up at Oklahoma State University, where she met her future husband, John Bennett. Today, they have a daughter and live near San Francisco.

“I was always known as the ‘Quad Sister,’” Sarah says, “because everyone knew them as ‘The Quads.’ It’s a title I’m lucky to have. It’s pretty cool.”

Ryan is an Amarillo chiropractor. He and Vanessa have three children—Mason, Oliver and Eleanor. In an oddity in a family that leans to the unusual, Chase’s wife is also named Vanessa. They have Ashlyn and Avery. Chase is in the HVAC business in Amarillo.

Charlie and Brent are single. Charlie is a mechanic in the aerospace industry in Fort Worth. Brent is in the insurance business in Amarillo, but was planning a move in late summer to the metroplex. And, no, those two won’t be sharing a bedroom.

Four adult quadruplets, one adult sister. All with careers, all productive citizens and three of them having given Randy and JoBeth six grandchildren. That doesn’t just happen by accident.

“It’s really indescribable what they did,” Charlie says. “I hope to have a family one day, and I hope to be half the parents they are.”

“I joke about this a lot, but really it’s not a joke,” Brent says. “My parents deserve a medal, like the presidential medal that civilians receive. You’ve been married five years, and boom, you bring home four babies from the hospital.

“To see my mom constantly washing clothes, making meals, running errands, that was a full-time job. My dad working overtime to make ends meet, it was just a huge amount of sacrifice. It was blood, sweat and tears for them and I have nothing but respect for the job they did in raising us.”

A Party to be Remembered

The 40th birthday party will be remembered as long as the Hill family has memories. Lyn Anderson’s backyard teemed with people. Some had helped Randy and JoBeth with the boys when they were young. Some were friends from high school. Everyone there had a hand in the lives of Ryan, Charlie, Chase and Brent Hill.

Music from local band Velvet Funk filled the summer night. “I’ll put it to you this way—it’s that one party you have in your lifetime that you never want to leave,” Brent says. “I don’t get choked up too much, but I did that night. I hope I never get dementia, but even if I do, I won’t forget that night.”

The party was a celebratory reminder of a special birth, an unusual bond, a sacrifice, and how the community came together for Amarillo’s first quadruplet birth.

“It’s incredibly awesome to be a quad,” Charlie says. “It doesn’t come up often, but every now and then, I’ll be asked about growing up. When people find out you’re a quad, they just think it’s amazing and make you show a picture or tell a story. I’m proud to be a quad. I can’t imagine not being one.”

No birthday party is complete without a cake. Birthday cake number 40 was a fitting nod to the past, with the same message that appeared on their cake as 1-year-olds in 1984. Four aces, four suits. Four of a Kind.

In a One of a Kind way. 


  • Jon Mark Beilue

    Jon Mark worked at the Amarillo Globe-News from 1981 until his retirement in 2018. He spent 17 of those years as sports editor, and the last 12 as the newspaper’s general columnist. Beilue received 16 statewide and national awards for his work. He has written five books—two are collections of his columns, and the other three are on Amarillo lawyers Wales Madden and Robert Templeton, and Canyon girls basketball coach Joe Lombard. Beilue is a native of Groom and graduate of Texas Tech University. He and wife Sandy have two adult sons.