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Thelma Hamilton

The Nebraska Signal

19 January 2000



Thelma Johnson was born Oct.16, 1906 to Grace Purdum Johnson and Frank Johnson, of North Loup. She was their only surviving child. An aunt, Sarah Purdum, was raised in the home until Sarah left to become a nurse. Thelma passed away January 15, 2000 at the age of 93 years and three months.

Thelma graduated from North Loup School and attended a summer school session at Kearney. She attended Nebraska Wesleyan three years. She met her future husband at the freshman picnic. She pledged Alpha Kappa Delta, a local Sorority, which later became the national Alpha Gamma Delta. Due to her mother's poor health, she dropped out of college her senior year. She worked in the family general store and taught rural high school in Valley County.

On Aug.28, 1928 Thelma married Howard W. Hamilton in her family home in North Loup. She taught in Valley County and Howard taught in Friend their first year of marriage. She joined him in Cedar Rapids for one year, in 1929. They moved to Geneva, the following year, where Howard taught and became Principal of the high school.

Thelma and Howard had three children. The first son was stillborn, a daughter, Georgia Grace and a son, Robert Frank Hamilton.

Howard was very busy with school and community activities so Thelma started carving her niche in her new hometown. She transferred her membership in the Scotia chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, which she joined at eighteen, to Geneva. She moved her Church membership to the First Methodist Church in Geneva. She joined Madre Kensington Mother's Club and Woman's Club. She particularly enjoyed the Book Review Section of Woman's Club. She is a Past Matron of the Geneva Order of the Eastern Star. She served as, President of the Woman's Society of Christian Service more than once and was a Sunday School teacher. She served the Woman's Club as President and she reviewed for the Book Review Club many times.

During World War II Thelma followed Howard and the American Red Cross to Little Rock, Ark. and then on to Washington D.C. and the National Headquarters. She took a job with the Veterans Association for a short time. She worked in the Pentagon for the remainder of the war in Procurment and Accounting. She carried on correspondence with co-workers until they all finally preceded her in death. The family returned to Geneva in 1946. Thelma again took up her club work and supported her husband's activities and the children's many activities.

In 1950, Thelma started a new career. She became the Geneva Public Librarian. She was to keep this job for 37 years. She loved this work and the library and the collection of books was her passion. Many students learned to love books through her guidance. She shared her love of the books and the work in the library with young girls who she trained to assist her.

This led two of these girls to pursue the vocation of librarian and they always kept in close contact with her. She helped many students research papers for college and high school. She always had time to listen to the young and the college returnees and many times served as proctor for off campus testing for them. She once said she read the first 100 pages of all of the books so she would be able to recommend them to the readers, but that she hadn't been able finish that many. In her retirement she tried to go back and read them read or the classics or favorite ones. One of the special things that happened to Thelma in Long Term Care was becoming a Reading Partner with young Charlie Ashby. She enjoyed' having him come read to her so much.

She was a fine needle worker and loved all forms of needle work. She taught many women in the county to knit in the Red Cross knitting program at the beginning of WWII. She won many prizes for cutwork at the County fair. The entire family still have her fancy Scandinavian mittens. She knitted about 60 pair of mittens for Georgia's kindergarten inner city school children. Her final fine creation is a counted cross stitch picture which she finished in her 80's just before Howard passed away. She never quit planning and working on projects. There are several unfinished projects in her home. She continued to study the catalogs for possible projects to the end.

Thelma was a fussy person. She loved to make fancy doilies, favor. etc. To be invited to lunch at her home was always a lovely treat. Both the food and setting would be very special. For many years she enjoyed hosting the Kensington Christmas Luncheon. Howard was always so proud of the little details she went to. She enjoyed serving for the Rotary Governor wive's luncheon for him. She won several costume prizes for her children in the early day Corn Festival. She was a wonderful cook. Men in the family bragged that Thelma could make more good meals out of leftovers than they believed possible.

Thelma and Howard lived life to the fullest. They celebrated their Golden Wedding in 1978 with all of their family and friends. They traveled over much of the USA, Canada and Europe. They enjoyed Theater. Symphony, Opera and Athletics all of their lives. A little known fact about Thelma is that she played high school basketball and loved it. They were adventuresome in their eating tastes. One of their favorites was Chinese and they shared that adventure with their children and grandchildren. They were lifelong Methodists and encouraged their children to work in their chosen religions by their examples. They were proud that their children and grandchildren all were college educated. Thelma was not musical, but she encouraged all of the children and the grandchildren in their musical endeavors and she taught all of them the importance of reading.

When Howard passed away Feb 17, 1991, Thelma maintained he home in Geneva and spent winters in Dallas until March of 1999. She wanted to stay in Geneva, but when she became ill she entered Long Term Care hoping to get back to the house soon. She got to enjoy visits from the children, grandchildren and the three great grandchildren this fall. She was still active in her Madre Kensington in December and enjoyed Christmas Eve in her church and home and particularly enjoyed the Community Christmas Dinner at the Catholic ( Church which she was pleased to tour Christmas Day.

Thelma was preceded in death by her parents; husband; a stillborn son and a brother-in-law.

She is survived by her daughter Georgia and son-in-law, Royal H Nichols, Jr. of Dallas, Texas, her son Dr. Robert F. Hamilton and daughter-in-law, Charlene Knapp Hamilton, of Godfrey, Ill., and grandchildren Andrew Nichols and Lucinda Nichols of Dallas, Texas; Phillip Howard Hamilton and wife, Sue, of Godfrey, Ill., Laura Muldowney and husband, James, of Cincinnati, Ohio and Dr. Richard Hamilton of Denver Colo. And great-grandchildren, Louisa and Robert Muldowney and Catherine Hamilton; a sister-in-law, Helen, Mrs. Homer Hamilton, of Lincoln and two nephews and many cousins.

Memorials are requested for either the Howard and Thelma Book Fund at the Geneva Public Library or the fund of the GHS Alum Fund.

Pallbearers are Andrew Nichols, Phillip Hamilton, Dr. Richard Hamilton, grandsons, and James Nichols, Charles Grothe and Herm Larson.

Lucinda Nichols will sing "Surely the Presence" and "On Eagle’s Wings" accompanied by Sue Kleinschmidt.

Services will be held Wednesday, Jan 19, 2000 at the Methodist Church with the Rev. Brian Kottas officiating.




The family of Thelma Johnson Hamilton want to thank the community of Geneva for the many kindnesses extended to Thelma over these past years and particularly over the past year. We are aware of just how much love and kind care were extended by the personnel of Long Term Care 1 and by her friend of more than 50 years, Dr. Charles Ashby. The Senior services of Fill more County have been wonderful. We can never thank her close friend Dorothy Gewecke, adequately for all the many kindnesses she has shown her. We also want to thank Shirley Crawford for being so faithfully helpful to her and to John Hofferber for keeping her yard looking so pretty for her to enjoy on her rides home. These are the things that allowed her to be at home in Geneva, where she wanted to be and assured us that she was cared for. We are truly grateful.