Earl Hamilton, 54 - formerly of Grantsville

Earl Hamilton passed away at home on April 27, 2015 with family in attendance.

Earl was born October 24, 1960 at Calhoun County Hospital, now Minnie Hamilton Health System, in Grantsville, WV, the second son of Sue and Lorentz C. Hamilton Jr.

Earl was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome soon after birth. Doctors advised his parents that he would only be able to learn basic skills such as brushing his teeth and dressing himself. Unable to accept this, Earl's parents left Calhoun County and moved their family to Arlington, VA in order to seek help in helping Earl to reach his full potential.

What followed was years of doctor's appointments, speech therapy, and school. Earl went to the George Mason Center School in Arlington which was the public school for children with special needs. There he was taught things like how to dress himself and other life skills. The irony is that he already had been taught these things by his parents.

With this in mind, Sue and Lorentz began to search for a better alternative for educating Earl. The answer was found in a Catholic school that was held in the basement of a Presbyterian Church. St. Coletta's School had been founded by a couple when they were seeking an education for their special needs daughter.

They created a modern miracle; a school that did what the experts said could not be done. They taught children with Down's how to read, write and do math.

Earl was taught by a dedicated group of Catholic nuns and lay teachers, who did not accept the then current conviction that children like Earl were only trainable, not teachable.

While it was not easy, Earl spent years at St, Collette's learning to read and write. He was able to do sums and count money.

He made friends and learned to dance an Irish Jig at the annual school St. Patrick's Day festival. St Patrick's Day became one of Earl's favorite holidays as a result. He thrived at St Collette's until he graduated in 1979.

Earl was not one to be left out. Anything his older brother did, Earl had to do also. He was active in the Boy Scouts and attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

While this is an accomplishment for any boy, for Earl it was extra special. Earl's chest almost burst with pride as his older brother pinned Boy Scout's highest award on him.

Earl was also active in Special Olympics and won several medals. He competed at skiing, swimming, diving, and ran the mile. His times in the mile were actually better than many high school students at that time. As a result of Earl's participation in Special Olympics Earl met celebrities such as Pele, Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), Kyle Rote, Jr., Ron Guidry, and Steve Garvey.

Earl was named Special Olympic Athlete of the Year in Arlington.

In 1979 Earl's father retired from federal service as a lawyer with the Small Business Administration and they returned to Grantsville. Earl soon became a fixture on Main St. when he would daily walk down to the post office to get the mail.

He would also help out at the Calhoun Chronicle with their weekly mailing. Earl became a member of the Lion's Club and was active in attending weekly meetings and selling brooms.

He participated in local fundraisers for charities and was a loyal fan of the Calhoun Red Devils.

He was an active member of Knotts Memorial Methodist Church, but he was also known to attend the Baptist Church because he had friends at both. Everyone knew Earl and Earl knew everyone.

After his father had a stroke the family moved to Parkersburg to live with his older brother. Earl continued to be active in local events. He became a water boy for the Parkersburg Catholic Crusaders.

He went to work at SW Resources and developed a new set of friends. SW gave Earl an opportunity to earn his own money while doing meaningful work. He was well known at the Knights of Columbus, where he helped with Fish Fries, Bingo and other activities.

Earl was also happy to go to his uncle's farm in Tazewell, VA He would be out of the car and changing into coveralls before the car stopped moving and was right in the middle of whatever work was being done. He helped with milking, putting up hay, and planting. He was without a doubt a farmer at heart.

Earl loved all kinds of music and was an enthusiastic singer, drummer, guitarist and keyboard player. Earl would perform at the drop of a hat for any who would listen. He sang in church choirs and loved being in front of an audience.

Earl never met a stranger and everyone he met was a friend. If he didn't know your name he would call you Bud or Buddy. He loved his family and never carried a grudge. He enjoyed spending time with his brother and eagerly looked forward to their yearly trips to Pittsburgh and Cleveland to catch a few baseball games. He was well known for giving the best hugs.

Earl will be missed by all he touched. He has lived a much fuller life than the one that was predicted for him by the "experts" at his birth. Up to the end he taught us what is important. He showed us that life is for living, for giving and for enjoying. Heaven has gained a wonderful loving soul.

The family wants to thank Earl's caregivers from JCDC, especially those who were with him the longest, Tim Marvin, Bill Morehead and Sarah Harper. We also want to thank Amedisys Hospice for their assistance and guidance during a difficult time.

Earl was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his older brother, Lorentz C. Hamilton III, his sister-in-law, Sandy Hamilton, 3 step-nephews, Calvin Richards of Morgantown, WV, JR Herrmann of Williamstown (wife Heather Herrmann), and Jeremy Herrmann of Jacksonville, FL and 1 step-neice, Cyndi Richards of Frederick,MD (husband Christopher Richards), and numerous cousins and other relatives.

Arrangements are being handled by Lambert Tatman Funeral Home in Parkersburg.

Visitation will be at 10:00 am and a memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on Thursday 4/30/2015 at Lambert Tatman Funeral Home on Green St in Parkersburg.

Graveside services will be conducted at Bethlehem Cemetary in Grantsville at 1:30 pm on Thursday 4/30/2015.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that contributions be made to SW Resources in Parkersburg WV or to St. Coletta of Greater Washington, 1901 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20003.