Raymond L. Hamilton

RayChebeague Island – Raymond L. Hamilton, 102, crossed the bar on Sunday January 6, 2013. He was born on Chebeague Island on December 12, 1910, the son of Alfred and Florence (Wentworth) Hamilton. He was educated in Island schools.

A lifelong lobsterman he was still doing some fishing when he was 90. His daughter Gail has very fond memories of going out with her father during summer vacation when she was a teenager. Ray was known as a story teller, recounting experiences on the ocean and with friends on the Island. He was also a jokester.

Ray had a few choice words of wisdom: "Hard work is the fountain of youth because it keeps your blood boiling"; "Refraining from smoking and drinking helped to keep me going"; "Those who sit on their posterior are no good at all" – just to name a few.

Ray is survived by his daughter Gail Johnson and her husband Bill of Levittown, PA; four grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; six great-great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews and a large extended Island family. He was predeceased by his wife of 40 years, Mabel (James) and his sister Estella Ross.

Visiting hours will be on Friday January 11, 2013 from 9 – 11 AM at Lindquist Funeral Home, One Mayberry Lane, Yarmouth. A funeral service will be held at the Chebeague Island United Methodist Church on July 1, 2 or 3 – day to be determined in May. Burial will then follow the funeral service. Please visit www.lindquistfuneralhome.com to share your condolences, memories and tributes with Ray's family.

Over the past month Bev Johnson has been posting interviews on youtube with Raymond - click here to see.

Ginny and her dog Sasha were with Ray when he passed and Ray especially appreciated Ginny, all the Hospice nurses (Anne, Kim, and more), Barbara Porter, Beverly Perkins, and the entire community who have made it possible for him to be able to stay at home comfortably the last few years.

Ray with his grandmother Helen Amanda (Mandy) and grandfather Alfred (Fred) Hamilton

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ray young man raywithgeorge
Ray with brother-in-law George

Ray's father Alf on the left and Ray on the right with 2 boys who had been visitors to the island according to Ray recently.
I think this is Rays first boat built by John Small around 1929.
Mabel and Ray on vacation


Adelaide Hamilton and Raymond

Raymond on a picnic with his father and mother.

Ray with daughter Gail
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Ray with Billy the dog and his erector set
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Ray in 1980
Ray with a gift from Anthony of a model boat

100th Birthday

101st Birthday
102nd Birthday

Ray is the top left in his high school (now the Grange)

Alfred Hamilton, Carroll Hamilton, Ray, Sherman Johnson on their way to a Red Sox Game.
Ray, Carroll Hamilton, Alfred Hamilton, Sherman Johnson


Published January 3rd, 2013 in the Forecaster Paper:

Lifelong Chebeague Island resident turns 102

Alex Lear

CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — The numbers 1 and 2 have had some significance lately for Raymond Hamilton: he turned 102 on the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year of the 21st century.

Hamilton, who was 6 when the U.S. entered World War I, has lived in the same South Road home for more than 70 years; he bought it for $2,500.

"Now as far as I'm concerned, today that's all it's worth," he said a few days after turning 102. "The only reason that prices are up so high, is because people say so. That doesn't make 'em expensive. ... My father's house ... cost $1,000 to build."

That was in 1905. Hamilton was born in that house, across the street from his current home, five years later.

His father, Alfred, was born in the house next door in the 1880s, in what was Chebeague's first boarding house. That house was run by his grandmother Amanda, according to Donna Damon, a town historian and selectman, whose father, Ellsworth Miller, was one of Raymond Hamilton's closest friends.

Hamilton's grandfather, also named Alfred, was born a little further down the road, and the family has been on that part of the island since the 1820s, Damon said.

Ambrose Hamilton, Raymond Hamilton's great-great-great-grandfather, was the first of the family on Chebeague; he arrived in 1756, Damon said. He bought 100 acres and had 14 children.

"We say there's a little bit of Hamilton in all of us," Damon, also a lifelong resident of the island, said.

Like his father, Hamilton spent his life as a fisherman. He started with his father at the age of 5, getting up at midnight to get onto the boat. Hamilton continued to make a living on the sea until he turned 92. Even bypass surgery a decade before didn't slow him down.

Asked why he retired so "young," he laughed and answered, "I guess I thought I'd had it. ... If I could have died the last day I went fishing, it'd have been wonderful."

Hard work, Hamilton said, was his fountain of youth: "It keeps your blood boiling," he said, noting that those who spend too much time on their posterior are "no good at all."

Refraining from drinking and smoking helped keep him young, too.

"Foolish things to do," he said. "I lived down in Portland quite a lot; there was nothing around the waterfront in those days except for bums and drunks."

Damon said the community has helped Hamilton be able to stay in his house, checking in on him regularly and bringing him plenty of groceries.

"The outpouring of support that Ray has had ... is really important," she said.

Hamilton has also had support on a broader scale; in honor of his 101st birthday, U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, had a flag that flew over the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C., presented to him.

He said he remembers the Chebeague of his youth as "a little fishing village. ... Every man on the island (did) some kind of fishing. Today that's gone completely."

Hamilton also said the government has placed too many restrictions on fishing.

He doesn't have much family left on the island. Mabel, who came from Vermont and was his wife of about 40 years, died in 1978, and his daughter Gail lives in Pennsylvania.

Island resident Beverly Johnson has been posting videos of her recent interviews with Hamilton to Youtube. The links can be found on her island news website, chebeague.org.

"He's actually enjoying the attention that Beverly's giving him right now," Damon said. "She's made him a media star on the Internet. ... He has an unbelievable memory, too."

Johnson also praised Hamilton's memory. "I enjoy the way he tells the stories, in his own way," she said.

With the wealth of memories he retains, has Hamilton ever thought of writing his memoirs?

"God, no," he said, adding with a laugh, "Nobody would believe it."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

Written on facebook by Donna Damon:

It is a sad day here on Chebeague. Ray Hamilton passed at 1:20 this morning at the Gosnell Hospice in Scarboro. He was at home until Thursday afternoon and was able to stay at home because of some significant help from Ginny Ballard, Barbara Porter, Bev Johnson, Bev Perkins and the Chebeague community who visited him on a regular basis and brought in favorite chowders, chocolate, fish and crabmeat! His New Years Youtube with Beverly shows how sharp his memory was and how he continued to be a great resource right up until the end. When I visited on Friday afternoon his was peacefully sleeping and never really woke up again. Ginny and Sasha, her dog, who loved Ray were with him.

Ray was a connection to another place and time. We were fortunate to have had him in our lives for so long. He went to school with my parents and he and my father fished together for a time. Some of my earliest memories are of my father and Ray swapping stories in our living room. I feel blessed to have spent hours and hours of my life listening to their stories. In the late 1990s , they along with Sanford Doughty participated in Ted Ames Historic Cod and Haddock study. I was fortunate to be there for the interviews and to attend the Fisheries conference at the Marriott where the three of them were interviewed by a myriad of scientists! That was a blast! Ray was also the subject of a documentary that Rachel and some of her classmates at Colby produced and it was shown at the Maine Film Festival. He loved that!

I will think of Ray everytime I pick out a crab and make a sandwich. I have already had the moment where I think "I have to ask Ray about that." I am sure I will have many more of those moments as time goes on, but I am so lucky that he shared so much with me!