June 30, 2016

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Longtime Medina numbers man Wayne Hamilton remembered as people person

Wayne Hamilton served as  Medina’s finance director for 28 years. He was 71. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

Wayne Hamilton served as Medina’s finance director for 28 years. He was 71. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

For nearly three decades, Wayne Hamilton’s job was to make sure the city of Medina’s books balanced. But employees and colleagues say what made him an outstanding finance director was that he didn’t just care about numbers.

“He served the people first,” Romy Graves, who served as deputy finance director under Hamilton for 24 years, said. “Whether it was someone coming up to the counter as a customer or an employee, the people aspect of his job was just as important as the numbers part.

“He was always very conscious that it was the public’s money.”

Hamilton, who served as Medina’s finance director for 28 years, from 1973 to 2001, died as a result of respiratory complications on July 7 at the age of 71.

His family will hold a reception on Thursday, July 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Waite & Son Funeral Home, 765 N. Court St., in Medina.

Born in 1942 in Seattle, Hamilton moved to Medina in the early ’70s, where he started his lifelong career of service to the community.

Councilman at large Bill Lamb, who served as mayor from 1982 to 1990, said he and Hamilton worked together at a time when the city was going through a lot of changes.

“We had a good relationship most of the time, even though everybody was separately elected,” he said. “I think he really enjoyed his job, and he was good at it.”

Lamb credited Hamilton with making sure the city made sound financial decisions leading up to the construction of the Medina Community Recreation Center in 2003.

“He cared very deeply about Medina and wanted what was best for the city,” Graves said.

Hamilton started working for the city in 1972 as an income tax administrator and took over for Finance Director Bob Jones when he stepped down in 1973. After that, Hamilton was elected to seven, four-year terms. He was unseated in 2001 by Keith Durham, who held off a challenge from Hamilton in 2005.

Mayor Dennis Hanwell said Hamilton was well respected in the city.

“He did an excellent job of managing the cities finances and working with city council and administration,” he said.

Hamilton went on to become the treasurer for Crestline Exempted Village School District for three years after his last term in Medina.

He then was appointed to the position of finance director in Vermillion, where he resigned in 2007 to spend more time with his wife at their Medina home.

Valerie Hamilton had only one word to describe what her husband meant to her: “Everything.”

Wayne and Valerie Hamilton met while she was working on his ads for the Sun Newspapers during his 1980 election. A Medina City Hall reporter for the paper introduced the two, who hit it off immediately.

“We went to a Zeigler’s Department Store open house together,” she said. “I kept saying it wasn’t a date, and I guess it ended up being one.”

Together they raised four boys, Scott, Mark, Jason and Kristoffer — two from each of their previous marriages.

“He raised four boys in a great way,” she said.

She said her husband was the lifelong partner everyone looks for in life.

“It took me a lot of time to find him,” she said. “But he was it.”

Contributions may be made to the Medina County Humane Society, or Hospice of Medina County. Online condolences may be made to www.waitefuneralhome.com.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.

Andrew Davis About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis covered Medina city government for The Gazette from January 2014 to May 2015. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.