Valerie Hamilton said Thursday nights throughout her marriage were for sitting in a circle and holding hands — she at her meditation classes and her husband, Wayne, at his poker games.
This Thursday night was different. It was for remembering.
Former co-workers, friends and family gathered Thursday at Waite & Son Funeral Home, 765 N. Court St., Medina, to honor Wayne Hamilton, who served as Medina’s finance director of 28 years. He died July 7 at age 71 of respiratory complications.
Hamilton’s wife of 21 years, along with his two sons from a previous marriage, Scott and Mark Hamilton, and her two sons, Jason and Kristoffer Carter, also from a previous marriage, stood in a reception line to greet the 120 people who attended the three-hour reception.
“Wayne was a very humble man,” Kristoffer Carter said.
“He didn’t want speeches or eulogies.”
Wayne Hamilton started working for the city as an income tax administrator in 1972 and served as finance director from 1973 to 2001. He was elected to seven four-year terms.
“We only knew that it was just his job and he’d put on a suit every day and go to work,” Kristoffer Carter said. “But what I’ve come to find is that he took such incredible responsibility and ownership of the people’s money.
“He had a high sense of ethics, an impeccable record and he was a true champion of the public’s money.”
Hamilton’s four sons said two things their father and stepfather always taught them was to be humble and honest.
“I knew him as a father figure and a coach who taught us a lot of things,” Jason Carter said. “It was only after I graduated I realized what an impact he had on Medina.”
Scott Hamilton said his father “emphasized the ‘servant’ part” of the title “public servant.”
“He taught us you get out of life what you put into it,” he said.
Valerie Hamilton said her husband wanted the memorial to be early enough on a Thursday night so that his group of poker buddies would have time for a game afterward.
“His poker group was saying how with Wayne not there they may have a chance at winning some games now,” Kristoffer Carter said.
Carter said many of the signatures in the reception guestbook were past and present Medina officials, including Mayor Dennis Hanwell, who was the city’s police chief while Hamilton was finance director.
“The thing that stands out most is that he really cared about people,” Hanwell said.
Hamilton’s former deputy finance director, Romy Graves, said most of Hamilton’s staff attended the visitation.
“He was a people person,” she said. “He cared about people, so it’s nice to see everybody here.”
Remembrance pamphlets at the memorial described Hamilton in 16 words: husband, father, grandfather, brother, son, public servant, outdoorsman, fixer of anything, golfer, poker buddy, margarita master.
Valerie Hamilton explained the last item.
“He always had staff meetings out in the backyard with margaritas,” she said. “He called it city hall staff meetings that he’d have at the house. Wayne was really well loved, especially by his staff.”
Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or firstname.lastname@example.org.