Archive for February, 2014

James Hamilton

Hamilton 1960Jim Hamilton died Saturday February 1, 2014 at his home in Cohasset following a brief battle with bladder cancer. He was 71.

Jim was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Marjorie and Harold Hamilton. He attended Williston Northampton School and Dartmouth College and received a masters degree in graphic arts. Jim had a long and productive career as a printing salesman for Nimrod Press, which later became part of Universal Printing.

With boundless energy and enthusiasm, Jim generously gave of his time and creative talents to many organizations. He served on the board of trustees of Williston Northampton School from 1979 to 1989. Committed to his community and appreciative of anyone and anything with a story to tell, he worked on countless projects for the Cohasset Conservation Trust and the Cohasset Town History Committee. His artistic skills, cunning wit and feelings about small town political issues were on display weekly in the cartoons he submitted for the Cohasset Mariner.

Jim was a longtime member of the First Parish Cohasset Unitarian Universalist Church. Jim was a sailor, a fly-fisherman and a gifted gardener known for his ever-expanding rows of vegetables and the pleasure he derived from working on his property.

Above all, Jim was a devoted family man. He leaves his wife of 48 years, Laurie (Goodwin) Hamilton; his two daughters, Sarah Hamilton Barringer and Jill Hamilton Yates, and their spouses, Scott Barringer and Robert Yates; his four grandchildren, Harold and Evelyn Barringer and George and Henry Yates, as well as his sister, June Withington, and her husband, Nuff.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Jims memory to the Appalachian Mountain Club, 5 Joy Street, Boston, MA 02108 or via their website http://www.outdoors.org/tribute.

Jim’s service will be at 11 AM, Friday, February 7th, at the First Parish Meeting House, 23 North Main Street, Cohasset, Mass. Reception to follow at Atlantica on 44 Border Street, Cohasset MA.

Stroker wrote the following eulogy:

Hamilton 2009“Jim Hamilton died at home Saturday morning, February 1st, after brief illness.  He leaves a wife, two daughters and their spouses, four grandchildren, a sister and her spouse, many nieces and nephews, and one pair of large Limmers to fill.  Obituaries can be dry, sterile affairs, little more than lists of flat facts and dates that don’t show a shadow of the person they claim to describe.  This one is an attempt to correct that imbalance.  Jim was my friend and mentor, as he was to so many others, so I write this one with the hope that it speaks—at least in part—for you as well as for me.

 Most OH know Jim as the guy who stood in front at our annual meetings when it was time to recognize someone or other for their exemplary service to the OH, public hospitality in the mountains, and related concerns.  But that’s just one end of a very long pack rope.

 Jim started his hut career at Flea in 1960, and held an abiding affection for that place.  When it came time to refurbish the croo photos, Jim hopped on his pack mule and rallied others to the cause.  Having graduated Dartmouth with a degree in graphic arts, Jim applied his talents as artist and writer to serve the OH for over two decades as our newsletter editor, shaping it into the informative and entertaining read it is today, the envy of social organizations with far more members and resources.  With the arrival of the internet, Jim turned his talents to helping develop our website.  For as long as I can remember, Jim’s only official seat on the OH Steering Committee was “Editor,” but everyone knew he was so much more than that, orchestrating, guiding, whispering the right bit of advice at the right moment, and all from the back seat.

Hamilton1961 It didn’t end there.  Jim led more than a few informal trips of OH into some far-flung places, from our own Grand Canyon, to Nepal’s remote Mustang Valley.  He liked to fly fish, so when the AMC considered saving some land from the developer’s axe—what’s come to be known as The Maine Woods Initiative—Jim was in the front row helping to lead the charge.  Working a second career as a development officer for the AMC, he helped raise the many millions of dollars necessary to make that dream a reality.  Then he did the same thing to rebuild Madison Hut, in 2011.  In recent years, he was a regular member of the AMC Board of Advisors, helping to review matters of policy and strategic planning, and a member of the AMC’s Board of Directors.

It didn’t end there.  His service to the OH was in addition to a long professional career as a salesman for Nimrod Press, during which he headed his trade association’s scholarship program and received the Benjamin Franklin Award for Distinguished service.  For ten of those years he was also a trustee of Williston Northampton School, where he’d attended high school.

 It didn’t end there.  Jim was an avid sailor, a gardener, an active member of his church and small town by the sea, a town historian, a member of the Cohasset Conservation Trust, a devoted family man who loved his Vizslas almost as much as Greenleaf.  Politicians are breathing easier with Jim gone—his cartoons and commentary in the local press regularly skewered small town scammers and bloviators.

 Hamilton 2004Any one of these contributions would qualify as a lifetime achievement.  Taken together, they mark of a life lived with astonishing breadth and depth, if not length.  But greater than any one of his individual contributions to the OH and AMC, Jim’s paramount achievement was his ability to bring people together for a common purpose—which, more often than not, was to have a good time.  I used to rib him that he was the “Eminence Grise” of the OH, a title I offered—as he rightly assumed—with an equal mixture of admiration, respect, and gratitude.

Jim Hamilton was a synergist.  If that’s not a word, it is now.  To call him a networker would be damning him with faint praise.  TVs and telephones have networks; the OH and the AMC had Jim.  He was a guy who brought people and causes together in just the right combination to make things happen.  He had that rare gift in a leader: the ability to gets things done without seeming to do anything himself, while simultaneously leading others to believe it was all their doing. 

He was a consummate magician, and his magic will be missed.

Like many of us, I knew Jim had recently spent a month at Beth Israel, receiving the best medical care available.  So, like many, I was dumbfounded when the end came so suddenly and with such a punch.

Without Jim’s knowledge, the Steering Committee was discussing making him an Honorary OH—it was only fitting to recognize the guy who’d done so much to recognize the service of others.  But with Jim’s sudden decline, time for talk and formal votes was over.  I canvassed a sampling of OH: do we make him Honorary?

 Immediately—I’m talking minutes, hours—OH weighed in from across the continent and beyond; friends who hadn’t seen him in years, others who’d only just made his acquaintance; young OH as well as old farts he started out with in the 60s; Trail Crew alum; AMC staff and volunteers; folks I’d never heard of who got the notice forwarded to them…  If I’d received an email from the Dalai Lama it wouldn’t have surprised me.

‘Do it,’ they all said.

So I threw the comments into an email to Jim, hoping it would ease his pain.  I closed that note: “I can think of no better measure of a life well lived than to be so loved and so respected by so many.”

 Jim died just hours before I could mail it.  He always exuded such quiet confidence and stamina, right up to the last time any of us saw him, I guess we all just figured he’d outlive the bunch of us.

Now that he’s gone, I suggest the best way to remember him is to carry his legacy forward, by continuing to build bridges that connect us to mountains, to each other, and to ourselves.

 As Jim would say, ‘Carry on.'”

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