Shirley Jean Hamilton
Oct. 29, 1928 — Nov. 5, 2017
Shirley Jean Hamilton, daughter of Harland Livingston Hatch and Blanche Iradell Oliver Hatch was born in Jackson, Mich., on Oct. 29, 1928. She passed away on Nov. 5, 2017, at Shorehaven Health and Rehabilitation in Oconomowoc. She died from complications due to stroke.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Robert Rivard Hamilton; her sister, Geraldine Ruth Hiebert; and her second husband, Paul Martin Nehring. She is survived by her three daughters: Sarah Jean Hamilton (68) of Albuquerque, N.M., Marcia Ann Hamilton (65) of Naperville, Ill., Carol Marie Hamilton (57) of Rochester, Minn.; one son, Arthur Rivard Hamilton II (59) of Minneapolis; two younger brothers, Hugh Corbyn Hatch (87) of Elk Rapids, Mich., and Edward Livingston Hatch (78) of Kettering, Ohio; eight grandchildren; two-great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Shirley, born and raised in Jackson, graduated from Jackson High School in 1946. She attended the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor and, at the age of 19, married her first husband and the father of her children, 21year-old Robert Rivard Hamilton, also a Jackson High graduate. Robert graduated from the University of Michigan — Ann Arbor and got a job in electric utility construction, first with Commonwealth Edison and then with L.E. Myers Co.; Shirley left school to begin raising their family. They lived for a few years in Michigan in towns near the power lines that Robert worked on before his transfer to Chicago, where they took up residence along the commuter rail lines in the northwest suburb of Mount Prospect.
Robert was promoted by L.E. Myers to a vice president in 1961 and transferred to Milwaukee, where the now six Hamiltons rented a farmhouse outside of Delafield within hiking distance of Lapham Peak. It was on this farm that Shirley chose to finish her degree and began correspondence courses at the University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee. Shirley and Robert bought a home on Middle Genesee Lake in the Town of Summit in 1965. About a year and a half later, when Shirley was 38 years old, Robert died following a heart attack at the age of 39.
Shirley completed her undergraduate degree and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Social Work from UWM. She was hired as a social worker at the Waukesha County Mental Health Clinic in Waukesha in 1969. Shirley worked there for 19 years helping many people cope with the challenges life presents. Shirley sent all four children to UW – Madison and served on the Town of Summit Planning Commission. She married Paul Nehring of DeKalb, Ill., whom she knew through her first husband, in 1988. Shirley and Paul split their time between her home on Genesee Lake and his home in DeKalb. Paul died of cancer at his home with Shirley at his side in 1999.
Shirley was a gifted singer and greatly enjoyed music, especially classical music and blues from the ’40s and ’50s. Shirley opened her home to foreign music students from nearby Northern Illinois University following the death of her second husband. The house was filled with music and laughter. Shirley met many of the students’ parents and traveled overseas to many of their homes. She also supported the local symphony, park service and museums.
Shirley moved back to her house on Middle Genesee Lake in the spring of 2012. The lake house was a family gathering place in the summers until the stroke which necessitated her move to Shorehaven in July 2016. She was a good sister to her siblings, a loving mother to her children and a strong and faithful wife to her husbands.
Shirley did not want a funeral or memorial service. Schmidt and Bartelt, Inc. of Oconomowoc is handling her cremation. She will be buried next to Robert Rivard Hamilton. Please consider contributions in her name to the music performance entity of your choice.