|Birth: ||Jan. 20, 1956|
|Death: ||May 27, 2013|
Published: May 30, 2013 3:00 a.m.
Victim of hit-and-run was generous, hopeful
Jeff Wiehe | The Journal Gazette
They gathered in a north-side bar to remember the man whom they were supposed to be with, a man whose chair would go empty.
This is what you do when you mourn.
You get together, you piece together what happened, then you tell stories about whom you've lost.
This is what you do when family dies.
And Richard Max Hamilton certainly had plenty of people who considered him family – both blood and not. Some of those people met at Michael Ray's and Carole's Too on Wednesday, people with whom Hamilton had spent more than a decade playing euchre on a regular basis.
"I've played euchre for 25 years," Dave Cimini said before sitting down to a game that Hamilton was supposed to be a part of. "He's the best I've ever seen."
Hamilton's life ended Monday night when a large vehicle – police believe it was a tractor-trailer – struck Hamilton in the lot of Ray's Truck Wash along an industrial stretch of West Coliseum Boulevard. The driver did not stop.
"I know he didn't suffer," said Adam James Hamilton, one of Hamilton's sons.
Adam Hamilton, an actor who is studying for a master's degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., spoke to the Allen County coroner and police afterward.
The coroner ruled Hamilton's death an accident, the 13th traffic fatality of the year.
"He got stuck under the truck, and a wheel ran over his chest and aorta," Adam Hamilton said.
"If he realized anything, it was ‘I'm falling' and then dead."
Soon after news of his death spread, the close-knit group of card players who had come to know and love Hamilton began to feel the void.
The group has been around for decades in various forms, starting up games in halls and bars across the city.
Many spoke warmly of Hamilton.
He served in the Air Force and was a translator in Vietnam, said Joann Dennis, one of his best friends and a former girlfriend.
He could sing, too, and often treated his euchre mates to karaoke renditions of oldies from the 1950s and 1960s after games.
"He had such a good voice," Gloria Reidt said. "I just told him that last week. He was singing right next to me."
He had four kids – two sons, two daughters – and eight grandchildren he spoiled rotten, one of his sons said.
Son Charles Hamilton described his father as a man who would give his shirt to a homeless man.
Adam Hamilton said if his father had three dollars, he'd give someone 2 1/2 .
Sometimes, though, life can go a bit sour for someone like that.
Hamilton and his girlfriend were living in a motel near where he died, short on money but not short on hope, his friends said.
He had suffered a litany of health ailments, including several heart attacks and a quadruple bypass surgery.
At one time he weighed over 300 pounds, but in recent years he had dropped to less than 200 pounds, Dennis said.
A job offer to do telemarketing in San Antonio, where the warmer weather would presumably help his health, excited him, she added.
These were things about him that did not make their way into the news and television reports in the aftermath of his death.
If those reports did not anger some of his friends, they certainly disappointed them with scant details about the man.
"Life just had him down. It could happen to anyone," Dennis said. "We want people to know that he was more than what was in there. We're a family, and we miss him terribly."
And as Wednesday rolled on, as cards were dealt, stories about the man came with ease.
That's what happens when you lose someone so close. Especially family. You gather and piece together that person's life. And you tell their stories.
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Fort Wayne police are investigating a fatal hit-and-run late Monday night in the 3400 block of West Coliseum Boulevard.
Police did not release the name of the victim, a man, who they believe was walking west through a parking lot when he was struck by a large vehicle entering the lot, according to a news release. The vehicle then left the scene.
Police do not know how long the man was lying in the parking lot before a passerby spotted him and summoned emergency responders about 11:50 p.m.
Investigators do not know whether the incident was intentional, whether the driver knew he struck the man, whether the pedestrian made any attempt to avoid being struck or whether alcohol was involved.
Richard C Hamilton (1931 - 2012)
EvaMay Quick Hamilton (1933 - 1985)
Marion National Cemetery
Created by: Steve
Record added: May 28, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 111297526