Gene Hamilton

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With a view of the Fleecer Mountain Ridgeline "Gene" passed away Monday, August 10, 2015. Born Everett Eugene in Butte on June 9, 1920, Gene was the only child of Everett Andrew Hamilton and Polly (Holton) Hamilton, both of Belgrade. He lived out his early explorative years at the Madison Power Plant where his father was then plant foreman.

His father, a career Montana Power Co. employee (42 years), moved to Butte where Gene attended Whittier Grade School. Growing up on "the flats," he was a normal mischievous Butte kid playing pranks and messing with the streetcars. He was a 1936 graduate of Butte High, then he attended MSC, studying Electrical Engineering and Dunwoody Institute, a technical school in Minneapolis.

Gene spent his summers while attending school doing line work, survey crew and Missouri River Sub. operator for The MPCo. By 1948 Gene was assigned as an electrician at the Montana Street Electric Shop. Coincidence or not, that year he found his bride, and married Margaret Schroeder at St. Johns Church on August 22, 1948. They shared 68 years of marriage together.

Thwarted by medical reasons his efforts to get into the Army air forces during the war, he set another goal for himself: ownership of his own plane. He received his pilot license while under the instruction of John Fox, Butte pioneer flyer. He started saving for the time when planes would become available again. In the fall of 1946 his name came to the top of the list for a two-place Cessna. The $3,500 plane was delivered and he took his mother on the first hop circling Butte. Where after landing she commented she enjoyed the trip very much, but admitted it was her last plane hop. Gene enjoyed his weekends and free flying time till his family was started and needed to sell it for a family house (sorry dad).

In 1952 he joined the sales department of the Butte Division. During this time he worked on the lighting of the Butte "M" among other Live Better Electrically promotions. Gene was Sales Manager of Bozeman Division from 1962 to 68 when he returned to the Butte Division. He retired from the engineering department in 1983 with 40 years of service.

Music was a big part of his life. His mother was a pianist and his father played coronet. At an early age they gave him "grass roots" lessons on both instruments. He gave up the piano and stayed with the trumpet. Gene played band through grade school, high school and college. Played drums for "gigs" around Butte, coordinated and played trumpet for the Ice Shows and Circus when they visited the Civic Center. He played trumpet and baritone alongside his father at Shrine Ceremonials, Butte and Bozeman City Band Concerts, and later with his sons. At one time he was commuting to play with both the Bozeman and Butte Symphonies at the same time. He never turned down the opportunity to play with any band or quartet. On Sundays his voice could be heard with the Church Choir. He also sang with the Tech Choir and the Montana Power Chorus. With the aid of retirement and time on his hands, Gene decided out of the clear blue sky with the help of Ray Simms to learn something about a string instrument and took up the viola. This got him away from the "guitar banging noise they call music." His proficiency and demand for violas earned him a seat in the symphony, time he thoroughly enjoyed, highlighted by his participation in the inaugural Montana Power Summer Symphony. "I never expected to play in an orchestra with musicians as good as this." Gene developed many lifelong relationships through his music.

Besides his music organizations, memberships included: I.B.E.W., Butte Masonic Lodge 22, York Rite Bodies and Bagdad Temple of the Shrine.

He was preceded in death by his parents and by his wife "Margie," 25 days earlier. Survived by his son Rob Hamilton, Gay Hamilton of Bozeman, granddaughters Hailey of Red Lodge and Dawn of Bozeman. Son David and (Marie) Hamilton of Three Forks and grandson Mathew of Glen.

Memorial Services will be held at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m. Memorials can be made to the Butte Symphony, Shriners' Hospital for Children, or to a charity of donor's choice.

The Family would like to express their approbation to the caregivers, given by A Plus, Genesis Rehab, and St. James Hospital.

A joint graveside internment service for Margaret and Gene will be Thursday, Aug. 20 at Sunset Hills in Bozeman 11 a.m. with Masonic Graveside Rites.

Axelson Alternative Cremation is privileged to serve Gene's family.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18, 2015
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