Valley Lives - Clarence Hamilton

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the October 17, 2018 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Clarence loved his cars, family and his village

By Hunter Cresswell

Clarence Hamilton was a pillar of the Wakefield community.

Anita Rutledge
Clarence Hamilton took over the reins of Hamilton Motors in Wakefield in the mid 1940s from his father before him. His very last ride was in a Chevy. Photo courtesy Hamilton family.

Some may have driven a car purchased from his Chevrolet dealership, some may have played hockey under his coaching, and others may have just known him as the friendly old man who was always willing to stop and chat during his walks in Wakefield.

Hamilton died at the age of 90 in Wakefield Memorial Hospital on Sept. 21 with his son's hand in one hand and the other holding his mother's Bible.

"He basically passed away the way he lived his life, with dignity," said his eldest son, Brian Hamilton, who was there for the final moments along with his brother, Kim Hamilton.

Brian said he took over the family dealership on Hwy 105, now known as Hamilton Chevrolet Buick GMC, from his father in the late 1980s. Clarence had taken over the business from his father before him. Established in 1921, the dealership sold carriages then switched to selling automobiles as they gained in popularity.

"It was in the mid-'40s that Grandpa passed the reins of the business to my father," said Brian.

A hearse picked Clarence's body up and, at his family's request, took him one last time down Riverside Drive where he used to go on walks and even stopped in front of his home before continuing to the funeral home, his daughter Darlene Hamilton said.

"His last ride was in a Chevy," she said in reference to the make of cars he sold most of his life. " - We got a chuckle out of that."

The death left the Hamilton family reeling, but they've been pulling through together.

"We're a pretty close-knit family and we're still in the area. It's important to lean on each other," said Wendy Hamilton, the youngest of the four Hamilton siblings.

Anita Rutledge
Clarence and his wife were married for 67 years; in this picture they were just sweethearts on a date. Cars, of course, were his other love. Photo courtesy Hamilton family.

"We had him for 90 years, so it was a nice long run," Darlene said. "We were fortunate." "It hit me on Thanksgiving at the table when I saw his empty chair," Brian said.

The siblings the Low Down spoke with said they'll remember their father as honest, caring, a family man, friendly, a church-goer, hockey lover, diehard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, hard worker, animal lover, jokester, loving husband to Irene Hamilton, and all around good father.

"My parents were married for 67 years - they were so in love," said Darlene. "What role models to have."

When asked to share their favourite memory of their father, each sibling paused and took a deep breath as if to go over decades of fond memories. At least one good memory shared by everyone was from Clarence's 90th birthday party, held in Wakefield two weeks before his death.

"How happy he was and how many people showed up, it was just incredible," Darlene said.

The family home was packed with guests, and there was a large banner out front wishing him a happy birthday, and a live band.

"It's almost like he knew something was going to happen, that's why he wanted this big birthday," Brian said.

Wendy said she was worried that no one but family would show up, but she was wrong. The street outside the home was lined with cars.

"It was amazing. Dad talked about that party for days. His cards are still by his chair," she said. "There were golden memories made that day."

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