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John Anthony Hamilton

Died: November 1, 1995

Because his father was in the Foreign Service, John grew up in Israel and Greece; and he boarded at the Mt. Hermon School, where he excelled, before entering Yale. At Yale he majored in English, ran track, and belonged to a fraternity. After graduating from Yale, out of a sense of patriotism, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, becoming a first lieutenant and fighting with the infantry in Vietnam. There he was exposed to Agent Orange; and years afterwards, in 1995, he would be diagnosed with malignant melanoma, dying four months later.

John’s journey is a telling one. He called it “fragmented journey,” and he shared it with others. He described his wife Jocelyn and himself and their five children as “a gathering of survivors,” “bound by a tough history and a common love for each other and the littlest ones.”

Following service in Vietnam, he was stationed in Japan, where he met his first wife. They started a family; and returning to civilian life, he embarked on a career with McCulloch Corporation, a manufacturing company. His career took the family from LA to Belgium, Singapore, and Australia; and “promotion followed promotion,” he wrote in his personal essay for our Twenty-Fifth Reunion Classbook. But the career took its toll, and after eight years his first marriage ended in divorce.

John met his future wife Jocelyn while working in Australia. John and Jocelyn were married, and they moved to Hong Kong, where he had been transferred. Each brought to their marriage children of their prior marriages — William, Danielle and Justin — and they brought them together under one roof.

“Many things happened to me during 1980 in Hong Kong,” John wrote, and “I discovered that I was not capable of all things. I encountered the full effect of the destroyed relationships around me.” In the depths of what he described as “alienation, conflict, and depression,” he heard a voice of hope, started attending church, and accepted the Gospel. With that John ended his corporate career, and with Jocelyn and their three children “came home to America” and settled in Virginia, where James and John Paul were born, now five children in all.

John was self-employed as a management consultant, founding and operating The Hamilton Management Process; and while home with their children, Jocelyn was also self-employed and additionally taught at their church. The church was a “vital” one, and Jocelyn and John were active in it. They loved gardening, scrabble, backgammon, cribbage, chess, croquet, tennis, swimming, canoeing, sailing, fishing, and horseback riding, Jocelyn said. They would talk, laugh together as John cracked jokes, and finish each other’s sentences. They were “soul mates.” John moderated a support group, God Provides, for midlife career changers; and he also made time to pursue an M.B.A. from George Mason University.

In contrast to earlier years and the “personal collapse” he underwent, he wrote, “I have experienced God’s miracles all around me: continuing spiritual recovery, forgiveness from people I have injured, family relationships restored, special children filled with hope and aspirations, enduring friendships, interesting opportunities to work, and put bread on the table. I have found that God’s love is relentless, and for me it has made all the difference.” John is survived by Jocelyn and their five children and six grandchildren.