A man who played a part in the history of several local organizations died recently.
James Edward Hamilton, 103, of Council Bluffs died Nov. 1.
Hamilton was one of the planners of Iowa Western Community College and served as its first director of adult education, according to his obituary.
He is also credited with helping to find property and funding for the Vocational Development Center.
Hamilton grew up on a farm in Lucas County and graduated from Iowa State University, where he met his wife, Dorothy, with whom he would have three daughters. After college, he started a career in agriculture education at the secondary level. He put his career on hold for a few years to serve as a B-17 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, according to his obituary. He flew 39 missions over enemy territory.
After the war, he returned to education. He spent much of his career as vocational-agriculture teacher at Audubon High School and adviser of the Audubon Future Farmers of America. He also offered night classes for farmers on timely agricultural topics, at one point attracting up to 150 students, according to a Nonpareil article published on April 7, 2007. He wrote a farm management textbook, “A Study Guide to Profitable Farm Management,” and coauthored two other books, “Profitable Farm Management” and “Financing Farm and Ranch Activities,” which were published by the Omaha Farm Credit District.
During his teaching career, Hamilton was honored with the Outstanding Teacher Award by the Thor Research Center, Beresford-Quaife Award as vocational agricultural teacher of the year, Honorary American Farmer degree, Audubon Man of the Year, state and national Harvester Travel Scholarships in 1967 and the Distinguished Service Award by the Iowa Institute of Public Affairs.
After more than 25 years in secondary education, Hamilton helped plan Iowa Western Community College and moved to Council Bluffs in 1967 to become its first director of adult education. He was named dean of community services in 1972 and retired in 1985.
Oscar Over got to know Hamilton as a member of Emanuel Lutheran Church and the Council Bluffs Lions Club, he said. Hamilton joined Lions on Oct. 1, 1968.
“Then he brought me into the Council Bluffs Lions Club,” Over said. “He was a very positive person, and he was a person who got things done. In one year, I think he brought in over 20 Lions members. I was in that group.”
“He was just a very kind man,” said Dr. Barry Jose, another of Hamilton’s Lions Club friends. “He was always conscientious about the communities he lived in.”
Hamilton directed the “Drive Alive at 55” safety program for senior drivers through Iowa Western for a number of years, Jose said.
He served as president of the Iowa Vo-Ag Teachers Association, Iowa Vocational Association, National Vo-Ag Teachers Association, Iowa Directors of Adult Education and Iowa Coordinating Committee for Continuing Education. He donated $20,000 to the Future Farmers of America Enrichment Center.
Hamilton remained a Lions member the rest of his life and “held all the offices in the club,” Over said. In 2017, he was named Lion of the Year. Having turned 101, he was the oldest living Lions Club member in Iowa.
“I enjoyed talking to him,” Over said. “He kept himself well informed and tried to be as involved as his body would allow him to be. He was always very alert.”
During the last couple years, Hamilton was no longer able to make it to meetings but always read the Lions magazine, he said.