Norman Root Hamilton was born in May 8, 1925 in Almont, Lapeer, Michigan to Frank Ronald Hamilton (1893-1955) and Eunice Osea Root Hamilton (1897-1977). Frank had married Eunice in 1920 in Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio. Norm joined older brother Ronald William Hamilton (1921-2016) and sister Dorothy Jean Hamilton (1923-2007). He was later joined by younger sister, Carolyn Frances Hamilton (1927-2014).
Norm’s family had deep roots in Almont. The Hamiltons were influential in the formation of the “Scotch Settlement” located southeast of town and the founding of the “Almont Society of the New Church.” Norm’s great-grandparents, William Bruce Hamilton Sr. (1800-1886) and Jean Downie Hamilton (1810-1890) with their three children, William Bruce Hamilton Jr. (1832-1918), Jannett Hamilton (1834-1923), and Margaret Hamilton (1840-1926), immigrated to Section 31 of Berlin Township in St. Clair County in 1841. Norm’s great-great grandparents, John Patrick Downie (1787-1873) and Janet Sproul Downie (1789-1871), with their three youngest children, came to Berlin Township in 1848. They established a homestead next to William and Jean.
Norm’s father, Frank Ronald Hamilton saw action in World War I in France. Letters he wrote to his mother; sister, Edith Anna; and brother, William Joseph; were published in the Almont Herald. Before World War I, Edith and William were Almont’s first scoutmasters.
After his military service, Frank was one of Almont’s first electricians. In 1921, he joined his brother, William, as a rural route mail carrier. They started delivering the mail from a horse and buggy. They moved up to a Model T Ford which had side curtains instead of windows and finally to a car with roll-up windows. There were times when they finished delivering the mail on foot, especially when there were heavy snows. They both retired in July of 1954.
As a young boy, Norm had an accident which cost him the sight in one eye. As a teenager, Norm, his brother, and their friends would ride their bikes to Imlay City to go to the movies. He remembers going to see Tom Mix in a cowboy movie. They would also ride over to Forest Hall to go swimming (General Squier Park).
Norm graduated in the Almont High School Class of 1943 with 21 classmates. They started their high school careers with 45 class members but a number of the boys quit school and joined the military.
Norm’s brother Ronald served during World War II. When Ron got home, he went to work as an electrician and Norm joined him. Eventually, Norm would work for himself. He worked as an electrician for about 30 years before buying a tiling machine and going into the farm drainage business. He tiled fields for about 20 years before retiring in about 1995.
Norm married Lillian “Lil” Eliza Eldridge (1928-1982) on September 7, 1946 in Capac. Norm and Lil settled into a home on East St. Clair Street next to Norm’s parents. Norm and Lil had two sons; David in 1948 and Robert N. (1950-2013). Once the boys were in school, Lil began working at the school as a secretary in the counselor’s office.
Norm was civic minded. He joined the fire department in 1950. He was selected to be Fire Chief in 1971. He would hold that title for 15 years until 1986 when Paul Wilcox took over as chief. Norm stayed on the department for nine more years. He retired at the age of 70 in 1995 after being a member of the Almont Fire Department for a total of 45 years.
He was President of the Almont Cemetery Association (Hough Cemetery) for four decades and drove school bus for over 15 years. He was an avid archer and helped found the Almont Archery Club. The club set up an archery trail in the woods on the Yoder farm on Van Dyke.
When the boys got old enough (about 1958) Norm became the Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts. He would hold that position until Marty Smith took over in 1973. Each spring and fall the Scouts would go on a weekend hiking/camping trip to Malcolm Bishop’s woods on McKail Road (woods located just to the east of present day Heather Hills Golf Course – farm fields at that time). The boys would hike along the north branch of the Clinton River south to Bordman Road and then take Bordman Road to Fisher Road to McKail Road to the woods. The boys would fish on the way out but rarely caught anything. Each summer in late July or early August, the troop would go to Camp Tapico (Tall Pine Council) near Kalkaska for a week long camping adventure.
Lillian died on March 18, 1982 at Community Hospital. She was laid to rest in the Hough Cemetery in Almont. After Lillian’s death, Norman married Betty Louise Sebert.
One of Norm’s pride and joys was his 1929 Erskine automobile, which he drove in nearly every Homecoming parade. It was made by Studebaker. He bought it in 1970. In 2010, Norm was chosen the Grand Marshall for the Homecoming parade. He was surprised when he got the call. He figured he must have been the tenth person they had called. He rode through the parade with Betty on a restored 1956 John Deere 620 tractor.
He also enjoyed traveling and riding his motorcycle. As of 2010, he had traveled through 49 of the 50 states – only missing Alaska.
Later in life, on Saturday mornings, he could be found having breakfast at Maria’s Restaurant downtown. In the summer of 2020, at the age of 95, Norm was seen mowing his lawn on a day when the temperature was equal to his age!
Norm passed away on February 14, 2022 and was laid to rest next to Lil in the Hough Cemetery.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or email@example.com or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.