The passing of James E. “Jim” Hamilton will be felt by the entire region as his family, friends, and colleagues pay tribute to a remarkable man.
Joining with the Poteau community, Carl Albert State College employees reflect on the dedicated leader Jim was for the institution and surrounding area. He served the state of Oklahoma as a Senator from 1967 until 1976, President Pro Tempore of the Senate in 1973-74, Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1984 until 1998, and as a CASC Regent from 2005 until 2010.
“When the history of eastern Oklahoma is written,” said the late Senator Larry Dickerson, “Jim Hamilton will certainly be listed as one of the icons of Oklahoma politics.”
Jim began his professional career in Poteau, Okla. where he opened his law office and practiced for nearly 50 years.
He followed in his father’s political footsteps and served the state for a total of 14 years. That time, combined with his father Sen. Clem Hamilton’s 17-year tenure, totaled 40 years and is the longest legislative service by any father and son team, since statehood.
He was known as a champion lawmaker and a fiscal conservative, a watchdog against government waste. He gained the reputation of thoroughly reading all legislation before casting his vote.
Dedication to a job well done and passion for community is a trademark of the Hamilton family.
In the late 1970s, then CAJC, completed the construction of a 9,300 square-foot classroom building that was later named the “Hamilton Fine Arts and Communications Building.”
The facility was not the only Hamilton namesake at CASC.
The prestigious Jimmy Carter Presidential Lecture Series was first established in 1986 as the Hamilton Lecture Series but, with family approval, was later renamed in response to President Carter’s generous offer to donate endowment funding for the program to continue.
“The Hamilton family — Sens. Clem and Jim Hamilton,” late Senator Dickerson said, “has served as a benchmark for those of us who aspired to public service.”
In a comment made upon announcing his retirement in 1998, he said he still possessed his enthusiasm for service but felt it was time for him to step away from his position at the Capitol.
“During my time in the legislature,” said the late Jim Hamilton, “I have fought hard for my district and for LeFlore County in an effort to improve our education system, road program, and helping to create new jobs [for our area].”
Jim was a strong proponent for better educational opportunities for the young people of eastern Oklahoma and was a strong supporter of Carl Albert State College.
“His passion for education led him to be a great proponent of the mission of CASC,” said Dr. Jay Falkner, CASC President. “He was someone to trust, admire and strive to emulate; he will be greatly missed.”