Sunday, February 5, 2012

George T. Hamilton 1924-2012

George T. Hamilton 1924-2012
(Photo taken May, 2010)

A good friend of mine died recently (1-26-12). He was 87 years old and recently commented that he'd "had a pretty good life." Most of you who read this blog knew George, or knew of him. From 1959 to 1966 he was manager of the AMC huts following in Joe Dodge's footsteps in that position. George was a true diplomat. The thing I remember best about him was the respect with which he treated everyone. During my first summer in the huts (1961) I was astonished by the way he held out that respect to me, a mere teenager. No one, no adult, had ever offered me that kind of space to be myself, to trust my judgement, to be believe I was up to the task. It was a profound experience and a wonderful gift to offer a young person. He gave it to each of us and I still carry that gift with me today. Other former croo have noted how George helped to "shape their character" and I agree. He acted with dignity, honor, and kindness. He had a wonderful sense of humor and I particularly liked the way he could laugh at himself.

A photo of George surrounded by a cast of croo members at his retirement party in August 1966 (Anthony MacMillan in the background). He came to the huts after serving in the Army Air Force in WWII and after the war as a game warden, what we referred to then as a "fish cop". When he left the huts he went on to many other salient positions including head of the New Hampshire state parks, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forest, and even a stint as a bank president. The list of his accomplishments is quite long.

George passionately loved the White Mountains, the crags and the forest; the beauty of this place and it's history. As a game warden he was also a passionate naturalist and a student of nature in every sense. He was curious about everything. This photo is one of my favorites of George. I took it in November 1965 on a hike up the Greenleaf Trail on Mt. Lafayette. We were hiking with George's close friend, Harry McDade, MD, a backwoods country doctor from Littleton, NH, who was an amazing person in his own right. "Doc" McDade was a bird expert and knew most, if not all, the birds of New Hampshire by their songs alone. On this hike, with George in the lead, Doc was trying to teach George and I the songs of some of the lesser known winter birds of the White Mountains. Both men were expert naturalists, between them possessing encyclopedic knowledge of the fauna and flora of the Whites. I admired them both. There are hundreds of stories, mostly hilarious, in which George stars, and certainly one of his parting gifts to those who knew him is a vast trove of wonderful memories of the times when we shared his company.


Ted said...


This is a lovely tribute to a gentleman with whom my father shared many grand times in the mountains. He always spoke of him with a smile and the highest regard. Indeed, George Hamilton was a wonderful friend to many.

Ted McDade

Alex MacPhail said...

Ted, Thanks for the note and sorry we've never met. "Doc" and George were a lot alike, at least from my young perspective, and I willingly chose them as teachers in every respect and certainly in the magical, compelling realm of natural history. It was wonderful to be around adults who had the same passion for it that I had and still have largely to those two men. All Best, Alex.