TOWNSEND — Robert Foster Hamilton, 87, a life-long resident of Townsend, died at the home of his son and daughter-in-law, James and Laura Hamilton, on Wednesday, June 6, 2007. Florence, his wife of 64 years, his daughter Judith and son James were also with him at the time of his passing. From the outset of his affliction with Alzheimer’s disease, he had but one wish — to die at home, with his loving and devoted family nearby. His wish has now been fulfilled.
For the past three and one-half years his immediate family members have been his primary caregivers. His care was also supplemented by daily visits from Nashoba Nursing Services and later their hospice program. He fought his disease bravely, with dignity and without complaint, setting an example for those he has left behind. Bob Hamilton was a man who will be remembered as a wonderful father and grandfather, whose friendships were many and whose endearing ways shall be forever missed.
Following his attendance at Townsend High School, he entered the U.S. Army during World War II. After completing his basic infantry training, he was assigned to the 322nd Military Police and was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in Huntsville, Texas, where he stood guard over German prisoners of war. While at Fort Sam Houston it was discovered that Bob played the cornet and he was without delay assigned the duties of company bugler.
After fulfilling his military service obligation, Mr. Hamilton returned to his job at the Fessenden Barrel Company in Townsend, where he continued to work as a cooper until 1961 when fire destroyed the operational facilities and the numerous wooden structures that housed the barrel factory.
Receiving little in the way of formal training, Bob shared his musicality with anyone of sound hearing who was willing to listen, and oft-times even with those who weren’t. Bob Hamilton takes with him an astonishing memory for the lyrics and melodies to almost every popular song written from 1920 through 1950. This chapter of his memory was to become a Godsend and a great comfort to him as he progressed through the seven stages of Alzheimer’s, listening all the while on his headphones, enraptured by yet another Glenn Miller, Harry James or Rosemary Clooney hit from his past. Those fortunate enough to be in his presence found it uncanny to hear him sing, play or whistle any song they might request. His greatest listener of course, was his wife, Florence, with whom he shared 64 years of marriage and many a song and dance step.
A quiet and mild-mannered man, Bob was best known to friends and associates by his nickname, “Hammy,” a moniker passed down from his grandfather, John, to his father, Foster, and later to his own son. His enemies were few and his friendships many over the span of his 87 years. Gardening was his favorite pastime, and he was always eager to share his accumulated knowledge for growing vegetables and flowers.
Living atop Wallace Hill in Townsend, Bob would plant his garden over 50 seasons and his gardens were large and very productive. Reaping the rewards of his efforts gave him much pleasure and the produce was generously shared with family, friends and often a passerby or two, or three. Bob’s fun came as much in the giving as it did in the growing.
In 1961 Mr. Hamilton worked at Thompson Wooden Reel Co., in West Groton, Mass. In 1963 he began working at North Middlesex Regional High School in Townsend, where he stayed until his retirement in 1977.
In 1949 he purchased from the Fessenden Company an old and rundown cooper shop on Mill Street near the center of town. With the help of his father, Foster, they skillfully transformed the old shop into a beautiful home. Four years later he would, again with the help of his father, craft from several large stacks of milled timber an attractive Cape Cod-style cottage on Wallace Hill. This would become home for the next 53 years.
An avid sportsman, he enjoyed numerous winter-weekend ice fishing excursions on the frozen waters of Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H. Never did he lose the zeal and excitement for outdoor adventure. Since boyhood, he loved to fish along the banks of the Squannacook, and he knew that river from beginning to end and top to bottom. A father to one son and daughter, a grandfather and great-grandfather to five boys and two girls, he was always willing to give of his time and love equally while teaching them, by the example he set, how to live in harmony with nature and to become aware of its many offerings.
Robert was the son of Foster G. and Florence (Kaddy) Hamilton of Townsend. He is survived by his wife, Florence G. (Ballou) Hamilton; a daughter, Judith E. Wilson of Townsend; a son, James A. Hamilton of Townsend; two granddaughters, Christine Powell and Marni T. Hamilton, both of Townsend; and a grandson, Ross A. Sullivan of Villa Rica, Ga. He also leaves five great-grandsons, Michael D. Powell, Kevin C. Powell and Christopher J. Powell, all of Townsend, and Noah H. Sullivan and Evan F. Sullivan, of Villa Rica. He is also survived by a brother, Richard F. Hamilton of Townsend, and many nieces, nephews and friends.
Mr. Hamilton was predeceased by his sisters Gertrude (Hamilton) Davis of Peterborough, N.H., Eva (Hamilton) Austin of Brookline, N.H., and Lucy (Hamilton) Fortin of Charlestown, Mass; brothers Hazen Hamilton of Worcester, and George Hamilton of West Townsend.
At the request of the family there were no calling hours. However, the burial service on Saturday, June 9, at the Hillside Cemetary in Townsend, was open to anyone wishing to attend.
Honorary pallbearers were Robert Barrett of Rindge, N.H.; Richard O. Collett of Townsend; Arthur B. Borneman Jr. of Townsend; Earle S. Bagley Jr. of Upper Marlborough, Md.; Alvah M. Reida of Rindge, N.H.; Gilbert Woolfrey of Townsend; Laurence B. Bagley of Townsend; William E. Reeves of Townsend; John D. Bagley of Townsend; and Loyal L. Spaulding of Fairfield, Maine.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made in the name of Robert F. Hamilton to The Mass. Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Foundation, 311 Arsenal St., Watertown, MA 02472 or the Hospice Program at Nashoba Nursing Services, in Shirley, MA 01464.
The T.J. Anderson & Son Funeral Home, 250 Main Street, Townsend is assisting the family with arrangements. Please see www.andersonfuneral.com for additional information.