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 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.'”

Comments

  1. Leonard B. {sleazy} Dalton

    There are few more major people in my life. Jim was way too young to go. I am now 84 and still cookin’ and can’t understand why we lost Jim. Sleazy Dalton

  2. Bob Watts

    It’s a sad, sad day. Jim and I had developed a close friendship and email dialogue in recent years, and we were both privileged to attend the Madison 125th. He was a superb gent who lived for the AMC, the OH and recently had become an advocate for the Trail Crew as well. It’s hard to believe that just 5 months ago he made the Gulfside Trail traverse to attend the Madison anniversary. The AMC has lost a great team player, and we’ve all lost a great, great friend.

    Bob Watts – Trail Crew ’52 to ’55

  3. Betsy Corindia Fowler

    Too soon gone, but will be long remembered. Jim was important in many people’s lives. He was a good friend of mine and Brian’s. We miss him so much already. He had a large, positive presence and made an indelible impression on all he met. We miss you, Jim.

  4. Betsy Corindia Fowler

    A change in the after service reception location. It is at Atlantica on 44 Border St., Cohasset, not Parish House.

  5. Robert Proudman

    Jim just recently befriended the Trail Crew Association… Yep, those renegade TFC depending on our good friends in the AMC Huts to support us as we built trail and wore out Limmers as per the code. Jim came to our reunion last November, and did his best to support Andrew, Salz, AMC, and the Trail Crew at Pinkham. Totally and stark raving depressed by this turn. Best to Hut Croo, TFC and all A mountaineers. Bob Proudman of Mountain Mama, West Virginia…

  6. Tim Traver

    A real shocker to lose Jim so young. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Enthusiastic, hard-working and always encouraging, Jim will be sorely missed. Sorry not to get out on the stream with you this fall Jim. Rest in Peace.

  7. Jack Tracy

    A sad day in a wonderfully full life. The north country will miss him, and his boundless enthusiasm for the mountains.

  8. Dave Hickcox

    I was both saddened and shocked to hear of Jim’s death – I had not seen him in some time and did not know he was sick. I met Jim for the first time immediately after I hired on with the AMC in 1963. I reported for duty at Pinkham and shortly after George Hamilton sent Jeff Damp and I to Zealand to man the hut as it had just opened, did not have a full croo and the Hams was out in the Pemi looking for a group of lost campers from a girls’ camp. Jeff and I had never worked in a hut before so things did not progress smoothly. Late at night Jim came in with the group of girl campers and Jeff and I got food together – more or less. That was my introduction to the huts, Jim Hamilton and George Hamilton. My impression of Jim then (I was 18) was that he was a REAL hutman, a hutman’s hutman. Nothing ever happened to change that opinion. He was a man of the White Mountains that had the hills and the huts in his blood. He was a mountain of a man and we are all the better for having known him and his loss is a loss for the OH, the AMC and the White Mountains.

  9. Adam Cook

    Didn’t know Jim personally, but as a fellow OH I wish for his spirit to live on in the great White Mountains and amongst the shelters of the Huts which I am sure he loved dearly.

  10. Bruce Shields

    From those wonderful months while Jim was at Greenleaf and I at Lonesome, he was always a warm friend. As Sleazy notes, it somehow hurts to be left behind by one so young and strong.

  11. Allen Koop

    This hits hard for many of us.
    Jim and I shared not only working in the huts at the same time, but also the same class in college (same dorm the first two years), and then all those decades as OH. Jim was loyal to the people and institutions of his life, reminding many people how much they meant to each other. He kept people in touch, when otherwise they might have drifted apart. The OHA owes so much to Jim.

  12. Ted Vaill

    Worked with Jim at Greenleaf in the late 1950s, and renewed contact on Everest in 2004, which we climbed (all the way to the bottom – Base Camp on the Khumbu Glacier). We did climb a peak nearby, Gokyu-Ri. I will miss his good cheer, as is evident in the video of the trek I did, “Trekking to Everest”.

  13. Willy Ashbrook

    Losing Jim is like losing a brother. I met Jim in 1961 and I thought he was the consummate hutman. I had the honor of working closely with him on the Madison Rennovation campaign, Team Willy and attending Bay Circut Trail gatherings. I have so many fabulous Jim and Laurie memories that will forever live in my heart. You are so missed, dear friend

  14. Robin Snyder

    I had the privalidge to have known Jim as an OH while being part of the OH team. I worked n the Resuscitator with JIm doing the Gormings section. Ever a perfecxtionist, Jim kept me to task on my deadlines and did so with humor and directness that I so appreciated. I am saddened that due to my residence in Oregon, I have not been to any reunions or meetings the last few years and as such I missed being able to connect with Jim. I will remember an especcially dedicated hutman and OH. I am so proud that he also befriended and advocated for the TFC. I will always hold a soft spot for TFC. Jim, you left too soon to be sure! Robin Snyder

  15. Stroker

    Renaissance Man. Friend. Mentor. Wingman. Right up to the brink, Jim seemed invincible, which is why his loss hits all the harder. How often do any of us get the chance to say, “I was truly blessed to know that guy?”

  16. Jay "Fan" Regan

    Jim– the Hare as we knew him– was one great guy. So talented. We had lunch a few years ago and he seemed so much his usual self. Loved knowing him and will really miss him

    FAN

  17. Russell Hobby

    I remember Jim working at Madison, also playing baseball at the OH spring reunions. He was a pillar of the OH and will be sorely missed. Russ Hobby

  18. Syd Havely

    Jim made me proud to an OH. He gave unselfishly to those who loved the mountains, the AMC, and to those of us who were blessed and lucky enough to have worked in the huts and known him. He will be missed. God bless him.

  19. Rich Bloch

    Jim was an imaginative, talented, energetic, hilarious guy and one of the truly good friends anyone could be lucky enough to have. What an amazing loss.

  20. Robert B. Field,Jr.

    I’m informed of Jim Hamilton’s much too early departure from the Blue Marble only to discover a related tribute to Ed Hobby, Jr., another friend. This is not my best day. Though not a Hut Man, I’ll be there on Friday, remembering clearly my day with Jim and Laurie on Mt. Lafayette in 1967, m many rides back to Dartmouth with him, and his participation as an usher at my wedding. Rest well.

  21. Jim Hainer

    An eager, enthusiastic first-year construction crew lad strides proudly up to the Greenleaf pack scale to weigh in after his first pack trip (a tall load of planks for the water tank strapped to a packboard). It was the summer of ’59. I see that his enthusiasm never waned. Even today I hear from friends of ‘the first time I took my son hiking – up to Greenleaf Hut’. You enriched many lives. Thanks, Jim!

  22. Harry S Westcott "Steve"

    It seems like yesterday that Jim sat in our living room and told us about the campaign to do over Madison. His enthusiasm and dedication convinced Gerd and me to pitch in with a few bucks to kick it off. He also was a link to my short time in Pinkham, 1943, since he was old enough to remember my generation of OH and keep me appraised of who went to that Great Reunion in the Sky.
    Jim will be sorely missed. Our condolences to the family.

  23. Dominique Brooke Dodge

    I’ll miss you Jim. I’m grateful for all you’ve done for the beautiful mountains we love and the people who work in them. I’ll think of you every time I see the new Madison shining on the hill.

  24. Bill Blais

    Jim was a great person, a relentless fireball of positive energy. My wife Ellen worked very closely with him on development at the AMC, and I remember a bunch of conversations we had on the Madison rebuild. Never a doubt that he could raise all the dough and then some because he loved the huts so much and conveyed that enthusiasm with such fervor! Ellen went to many, many meetings with Jim and he was always in high spirits and fired up about living. We are all going to miss him so much. Love to the family.

  25. Peter Ortved

    I did not know Jim when I worked in the huts back in the late 60’s. I only got to know him when I went to attend the last night celebration at Madison in August 2010 and Jim and Willy Ashbrook were leading the event at the hut. Jim spoke with passion about Madison, the huts, the spirit, and it was very evident that he was force to be reckoned with. I learned this further later, when Jim called looking for a contribution and I was happy to oblige. Jim embodied the energy that is needed to make connections by so many of the groups he was associated with. Stoker put it very eloquently … he built many bridges.

  26. laurenceeldredge

    I never met Jim in person–only via the internet and email. But he was always encouraging, always supportive, always asking if I couldn’t manage to write one more reminiscence of the Dark Ages in the huts. He sent a photo of his excursion across the range to Madison–all old OHs, and now one fewer. Not forgotten. Larry Eldredge (Madison 49, 50; Lakes 52, 52, and part of 53)