David Hamilton and some of his closest friends were avid cyclists, and when they found out the Regional Trail Corp. was planning to bring part of the Great Allegheny Passage through his hometown of Van Meter in Fayette County they sprang into action.
“They called themselves ‘The Over the Hill Gang,’” said Hamilton’s daughter-in-law, Kathy Hamilton of Salem. “That group mowed grass, improved the trail, volunteered to help get it ready and did maintenance over the years.”
Mr. Hamilton also paid homage to his fellow coal mine workers by erecting along the trail a memorial to the Darr Mine disaster of 1907, in which 239 miners were killed in a gas and dust explosion at the Rostraver mine.
David Hamilton of Greensburg died Friday, May 10, 2019, at Redstone Highlands in Greensburg. He was 89.
Mr. Hamilton was born Jan. 25, 1930, in Library, son of David Hamilton Sr. and Josephine Davina (Collins) Hamilton.
He graduated from the former Rostraver High School and spent a nearly four-decade career in coal mine maintenance, mostly for the Republic Steel Corporation.
“It was a lot of electrical work,” his daughter-in-law said.
Mr. Hamilton met his wife of 64 years, Dorothy Jean (Schnippert) Hamilton when she needed a ride to the local basketball game.
“She was still in high school at Yough, covering the basketball games for the school newspaper,” his daughter-in-law said. “He had a car, gave her a ride to the game and that was how they met.”
The couple were married on March 30, 1955.
In his free time, Mr. Hamilton enjoyed the outdoors.
“He loved fishing along the Yough, near the ball diamond in Van Meter,” said his son, Scott. “Later on, I had a cabin and we would go to our camp in Draketown during deer season.”
Despite an affinity for hunting, Kathy Hamilton said her father-in-law didn’t bag his first buck until he already had grandchildren.
“He was also an avid skier and was still skiing when he was 81 years old,” she said. “They went to Seven Springs, Laurel Mountain and out west, as well.”
Mr. Hamilton and his wife had a second home in Hidden Valley, where his son said they’d spend winter after Mr. Hamilton retired in 1989.
As the son of a first-generation Scottish immigrant, Mr. Hamilton was enamored of his family’s heritage.
“He was a bagpiper when he was younger,” his daughter-in-law said. “We’d go to the Highland Games in Ligonier every year, and up until the past few years he was the Clan Hamilton president for quite a while.”
His son recalled him playing in at least three bagpipe bands in his younger days.
“He enjoyed life,” his daughter-in-law said. “He was funny, he was knowledgeable and he loved his family.”
Her husband agreed.
“Around people he didn’t know, he was generally pretty quiet,” he said. “But for those of us who knew him, he was really gregarious and kind.”
Once his grandchildren were born, Mr. Hamilton was known to friends and family as “Grumpy,” with all the monikered clothing to match, even though no one would ever describe him that way, his daughter-in-law said.
Mr. Hamilton is survived by his wife Dorothy; daughter, Kimberly (Hamilton) Ansell; son, David William Scott Hamilton and his wife, Kathryn; and three grandsons.
Family and friends will be received from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday at Redstone Highlands Chapel, 6 Garden Center Drive in Greensburg.
An 11:30 a.m. memorial service will be held Saturday in the chapel.
Memorial donations can be made to the Westmoreland Yough Trail Chapter of the Regional Trail Corp., 111 Collinsburg Road, West Newton, PA 15089.