J.T. Hamilton, long-time resident of Medford, Ore. passed away September 26, 2014 at the age of 84. Funeral services were held October 4, 2014 in Medford. J.T. was born May 7, 1930 in Clovis, N.M., the second child of four to Everett and Gladys Hamilton.
The family moved to Lebanon, Ore. where he attended grade school and graduated from Lebanon High School. During high school he was the Student Body President his senior year and played both basketball and football.
After high school J.T. attended the University of Oregon where he earned a degree in Economics and was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity. He had enough credits to graduate early but wanted to walk with his classmates at graduation so he enrolled in a camp cooking class his last semester.. The class proved to be a huge benefit to J.T.'s wife and kids as for the last 56 years he made all of the holiday pies from scratch and stuffed and cooked every holiday turkeywearing a long apron tied around his neck!
J.T. was a member of the UO Alumni Association as well as the UO President's Association. J.T. and his wife Barbara were committed to the U of O and have held season tickets to the Duck football games, and have been avid supporters of the Duck Athletic Fund, since 1967 when Autzen Stadium was built, a tradition that J.T.'s family continues to this day.
After graduating from the U of O, J.T. joined the Air Force and went into pilot training at the Greenville Mississippi Air Force Base, eventually graduating #1 in his class. He served time in Florida and Texas before leaving the Air Force at which time he moved to Portland, Ore. and worked in sales in the lumber business.
In 1956 He met Barbara Nye in Portland, Ore. on a blind date arranged by fraternity brother Dick Montgomery. They were married in 1958 in Milwaukie, Ore. with a beautiful garden reception at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Allen Van Duyn.
Their two sons, Page, and Grant, were born at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland. In 1963 the family moved to Medford where they. purchased the Star Dust Motel on Riverside Ave. Daughter Julie was born in 1964. In 1965 J.T. opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Southern Oregon.
After many successful years, and after opening a second location of KFC on McAndrews Rd, they sold the restaurants and subsequently purchased Airport Mini Storage. J.T. and Barbara operated the mini storage for many years, eventually selling it and retiring in 2002.
J.T. was a tireless and committed community volunteer. He served on Governor Tom McCall's Lodging and Food Service Commission, was on the Board of the YMCA, Vice-President of United Way, and was a two-term president of the Oregon Motel Association.
He also served as President of the University Club and was a long-time member of the Medford Rotary Club where he served as Treasurer and a Board Member, in addition to receiving the distinguished Paul Harris Fellow designation from the International Rotary Foundation.
J.T. was Potentate of the Hillah Shrine Temple in 1979, and for three years served on the Board of Governors of the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. He started the Shriners Hospital's first Outreach Program in Medford after having enlisted the help of three Medford Orthopedic Surgeons (Tom Bolton, Donn McIntosh and John Gilsdorf) who evaluated the children's needs and determined their eligibility for admittance to the hospital in Portland, saving many long road trips for the families.
J.T. was a Life Member of all Masonic Bodies and Master of the Lodge of Perfection and the Council of Kadosh and KCCH.
In 1977, along with other Rogue Valley business leaders, J.T. was instrumental in the navigation of the legal and political processes that established the Rogue Valley's largest sporting event, The Pear Blossom Run. He worked the finish line for many years and in 1985 spearheaded the development of the criteria and application processes for the Pear Blossom Run Scholarship Fund. He then spent months visiting all of the region's high schools to raise awareness of the newly established fund. To date several hundred thousand dollars in scholarships have been awarded to students from across the Rogue Valley.
J.T. adored his family and spoiled them with many wonderful trips, a cabin at Lake of the Woods where he spent countless hours pulling kids on water skis, and of course those innumerable family dinners out. His family and friends will no doubt miss his unmatched ability to memorize and tell jokes; he truly loved making people laugh. He often stated that he defined success as a parent as raising kids that love each other and that love their Mother. To this we say Dad, you can rest in peace knowing that this goal was achieved beyond measure.
Donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children, 3101 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd., Portland, Oregon 97239-3009 or the Pear Blossom Run Scolarships c/o YMCA.