Skip to main content

Hamilton, Carl

Published onJul 30, 2021
Hamilton, Carl

(May 14, 1914 - June 2, 1991)

Quick Facts

Hamilton had four successful careers: government service, editing and publishing newspapers, faculty and senior administrator at Iowa State University, and author.

Hamilton helping to move objects into the newly opened Farm House Museum, 1976.

Born in 1914 in Carroll County, Iowa, Carl Hamilton grew up on various Iowa farms that his parents rented as the family fought through the Great Depression. His growing up years informed his work ethic and provided lasting impressions. He once noted that after surviving the depression, everything else was accomplishable.

Hamilton received a BS in Agricultural Journalism in 1936 from Iowa State University. He was a past member of 4-H, member of Sigma Delta Chi, Editor, President of the junior class, member of Cardinal Key, and President of the Cardinal Guild. He was President of Rotary, Gateway Center Limited Partner, ISU Foundation Board of Governors, ISU Foundation Board of Directors, ISU Foundation Order of the Knoll member, Member of Founder's Club, ISU Achievement Foundation Board of Trustees, founding member of Friends of University Museums and University Museums’ Curators Associates. In 1983 Carl was a member of the board of trustees for the Iowa National Heritage Foundation and in 1984, was a member of the board of trustees for Living History Farms. He was a 1958 Centennial Award recipient and in 1989 he received the Alumni Medal.

He served 17 years as a vice president and administrator at ISU and at least half a century carrying the unofficial title of the school's "Super Patriot". He had four successful careers: government service, editing and publishing newspapers, faculty and senior administrator at Iowa State University and author.

Hamilton’s first career was in Washington, D.C. in 1938, where he became an assistant at the Agricultural Adjustment Administration. During World War II, he was assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, Claude R. Wickard, and followed as assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture in the Franklin Roosevelt cabinet. By the time Hamilton left Washington in 1948, he was assistant administrator of the Rural Electrification Administration.

Returning to Iowa to begin his second career in journalism, Hamilton operated the weekly Iowa Falls Record and launched the Hardin County Times, jobs he held for 14 years. In 1960 he was a member of the board of directors of a state-wide citizens action committee for fair representation.

Hamilton’s third career, service to Iowa State University, began in 1962 when he became chairman of Iowa State’s Journalism Department. In 1965 he was the Director of University Relations. In 1984, the building housing the journalism school was renamed Carl Hamilton Hall. An auditorium at Ellsworth College in Iowa Falls also is named in his honor. In 1967, Hamilton was named the Iowa State’s Vice President of Information and Development and served Dr. W. Robert Parks in this position until 1984. Hamilton was instrumental in completing the fund-raising efforts for the cultural complex, the Iowa State Center, and Cyclone Stadium, later renamed Jack Trice Stadium.

Under his leadership, Hamilton administered the restoration of the Farm House (1971-1976) and the establishment of the Brunnier Art Museum (1975) and the Art on Campus Program and Collection (1980). Hamilton was largely responsible for the development of the Green Hills Retirement Community and the Gateway Center in south Ames. Hamilton’s stewardship of Wendell Miller (1898-1995), an alumnus of Grinnell College and Harvard Law School, resulted in ISU’s first major transformative gift to higher education. Mr. Miller bequeathed his estate to equally benefit Iowa State University and University of Iowa by creating the F. Wendell Miller Endowed Trust. “Iowa State has never before received or been the beneficiary of a gift as large as the F. Wendell Miller estate,” said ISU President Martin Jischke in 1995.

Hamilton’s fourth career was author of two books about Iowa history, originally intended to share only with family and friends, they became popular reading as the recounted stories were accurate and entertaining. In No Time At All was Hamilton’s recollections of life on an Iowa farm from 1910-1940 and Pure Nostalgia: Memoirs of Early Iowa was a collection of writings by Iowans which he edited. Both books were published by ISU Press with royalties directed to the ISU Achievement Foundation for student scholarships.

“My fervent hope is that the current and future generations of Iowa Staters comprehend at least a bit how much this one dedicated, talented man meant to the lasting quality of their dedication and university”, R.A. (Joe) Morton.

In 1969 Hamilton was named to Public Information Committee of the Iowa State Educational Radio-Television Facilities Board and, in 1984 he was recognized by 4-H for his life-long accomplishments in 4-H membership which exemplified effective community leadership, public service, service to 4-H, and success in his chosen career.

Carl was married to Catherine Ruth Farnham in 1938 and have four children Ann Hamilton Campbell, Mark Hamilton, Bruce Hamilton and Blair Hamilton, and nine grandchildren.

Hamilton passed away in 1991 and is interred in the Iowa State University Cemetery.

Selected Sources

Iowa State University. Office of the Vice President for External Affairs records - Carl Hamilton Papers, RS 5/1/11, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.

Iowa Stater, May 1996

Ames Daily Tribune, Editorial page, October 11, 1995.

Des Moines Register, ISU Stalwart Carl Hamilton is dead of heart attack at 77, Gene Raffensperger, Monday, June 3, 1991

No comments here
Why not start the discussion?