Summary: This address was prepared for the memorial service for Samuel M. Hamilton (1910-2000)long time preaching elder at Hays Christian Church and professor of philosophy Biblical literature at Fort Hays State University, Hays Kansas.
Remarks prepared for the memorial Service for Sam M. Hamilton (never delivered)
Today we want to celebrate the life and memory of Sam Hamilton.
It is fitting that one who had so much influence upon the lives of so many be remembered.
Most of you are here because Sam made an impact in your life for the faith by which he lived and in which you now walk.
Let me remind you of the opening words of the most famous chapter in the letter to the Hebrew Christians.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Heb 11:1-4
Sam so lived his life that this assurance, though about Abel, is true of Sam.
Though he is dead those who knew him still hear his words and remember the witness of his life.
People hear the words of Sam differently.
Some hear the words of the patient professor
Some hear the words of the Bible teacher and preacher
Some hear the words of a friend and neighbor
Sam wore several different hats in his life
He was a professor and advisor
He was a builder and mason/carpenter/plumber/electrician
Remember that old train engineer’s cap he wore?
He was a gardener
He was a preacher
One Thanksgiving day my parents and we and Hamiltons shared Thanksgiving dinner with Sam and Evelyn
We were sitting around the fireplace in the study as we did so often and Dad asked Sam what he was first a philosopher or a preacher and Sam’s response without hesitation was, “First, last and always a preacher.”
That and Christ’s church were his first love
Probably something in the neighborhood of twenty-five years ago Sam was the chairman of the board of the Hays Christian Church. We were discussing policies of the accessibility and use of the library of the Hays Christian Church and the topic strayed as was so common then until Sam told us his plan for the future.
I don’t know why I remember his remarks so vividly but I always have. He said something almost exactly like this, “Sometime I am going to die, hopefully, and I don’t want a ceremony.” He went on to tell us of his disdain for ceremony and that he and Evelyn had burial plots and would be buried in Rising Sun. He continued, “I want one of you to preach a gospel sermon just like you would on a Lord’s day morning. The only difference is there will be a corpse.”
Years passed, the Hamiltons made their home in Arizona, the visits to Hays became less frequent until they stopped entirely.
Now there is not a body.
But, oh, the memories we share.
During the past weeks we have all remembered Sam in our own ways according to the manner in which he touched our lives.
In my case he was a next door neighbor
Our back yards joined.
One August after they had been gone to Arizona for a whole summer Sam was burning the summer’s worth of accumulated trash and yard debris in the old brick incinerator.
The wood and fiberglass enclosure over their swimming pool caught on fire.
Steve Tramel and Sam Warfel came over to see what was the commotion and one of them quipped, "You could have just called you didn’t have to send up smoke signals."
The removal of the pool cover removed a physical and visual barrier and after that we became much better friends. The friendship matured after the pool was rebuilt.
Sam was also an admired fellow preacher, a friend and a mentor.
From Sam I learned more than just the wealth of material he shared in the outer room or from the pulpit at the Centennial Chapel of the Hays Christian Church.
He taught me how to solder copper pipe
He taught me how to clean a snapping turtle. Then Evelyn taught Paula how to cook one and we and Swiharts and Porters all ate it together on the back porch.
Sam made the bailing bucket I used when he told me how to go about digging a well in the back yard.
He helped me solder a radiator in our old Ford Fairlane. When I sold the car the radiator was still holding coolant.
He taught me almost all I know about block laying when we built what became known as the Wayside Chapel.