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Sons say William C. "Bill" Hamilton was friendly, caring and a good man

February 03, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com
  • In this file photo, William C. "Bill" Hamilton talks at a Washington County Museum of Fine Arts event. Hamilton died Jan. 25, 2011.
Herald-Mail file photo

To his sons, no one word can describe the late William C. "Bill" Hamilton.

Most adjectives do not do him justice, said his son, Richard "Rick" Hamilton II of Boonsboro.

"He was a nice person, a good guy, and he was extremely bright, wonderfully well-read and well-educated," Rick said.  "He was a voracious learner and traveler; more importantly, he retained what he learned."

"My father was a man with no enemies, he could make friends wherever he went," said his youngest son, Derek Hamilton. "He was humble in his own way. He had a big heart for people."

Born Sept. 5, 1921, Bill Hamiliton lived most of his life in Hagerstown, the son of one of the town's most prominent families.  A father of three sons — Rick, Derek and Teague Hamilton — he died on Jan. 25.

Although he traveled the world with his late wife of 54 years, Sheridan Hamilton, served in the military and studied at Washington and Lee University, there was only one place Bill Hamilton really called home, "Hagerstown," Derek said.

His father graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1939 and went to Washington and Lee University, where he graduated early through an accelerated program, Rick said.

Like many young men in the 1940s, he enlisted in the Army.  He was sent to the University of Missouri to study German.

Rick said military life was not difficult for his father, who served his enlistment stationed at Camp Rucker in Alabama, assigning German prisoners to work at area peanut farms.

Bill Hamilton later returned to Washington and Lee to attend law school. But in 1957, he chose to stop practicing law and invest in a car dealership, Rick said.

He was an entrepreneur and businessman, his sons said. Because he was outgoing and friendly, selling suited him, Derek said.

His friendly personality and sense of humor were matched by his caring for his community, Rick said.

Throughout his life in Washington County, Bill Hamilton served on various boards and fundraising committees, Rick said.

He helped raise funds for the Red Cross, served on the board of The Maryland Theatre and supported the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, to name a few.  

But with his generosity, his father was not a man seeking recognition, preferring instead to have the attention turned to others, Rick said.

"He was a good man, a man everyone liked," Derek said. "He always had a kind word and was always interested to talk to you."

"He was a great guy to talk to," Rick said. "That is what I will miss most, talking to him."

Family will receive friends at the Douglas A. Fiery Funeral Home on Eastern Boulevard from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Feb. 5, at 11 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church on South Prospect Street, in Hagerstown.

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