West Virginia, Fayette County and Oak Hill have lost “a gifted attorney, skilled businessman and outstanding citizen” in Pat Hamilton, said Sen. Bill Laird.

Hamilton, 91, passed away Sunday at his home.

Laird, whose father was a law partner with Hamilton, said he will be long remembered for his many contributions to Fayette County and southern West Virginia as well as being an outstanding father and family man.

He has a lasting legacy in his work to create the New River Gorge National River and the Gauley and Bluestone national recreation areas. But his civic work extended from major significant contributions, from helping to pass West Virginia’s Open Meetings Act to helping others on an individual basis. Law firm secretary Rhonda Hayhurst remembers Hamilton buying her a pair of boots during her first winter at the firm in 1977.

“That was the way he was. He was very generous and always doing small things to help people,” she said.

Mava Whitlock, who has been a secretary with his Fayetteville firm for 60 years, said Hamilton was always calm and measured. “He never said a cross word to me. If there was anything wrong with my work, a misspelling, you simply did it again. He never raised his voice to me.”

And those who worked under him felt appreciated and part of the family. Debby Sizemore worked in his law firm and then on his campaign when he ran for U.S. Congress.

His office, she said, was always filled with photos of his family, his work family, and his political friends. 

He collected eagles and was a patriotic man who served in the U.S. Army, as a FBI Special Agent from 1940-1954, a two-term state senator and two-term state delegate.

Sizemore said Hamilton was a mentor to her and always strove to “give young folks an opportunity throughout his career, especially young lawyers straight out of school.”

Fayette County Commissioner Matt Wender also grew up knowing Hamilton and always admired him for his “keen intellect.”

“He was a brilliant man, a great intellect, voracious reader and excellent speaker,” he said.

Wender said his appreciation of Hamilton has grown over the years after learning how many small public service districts he helped form.

“It is not very glamorous, but there are many small public service districts he was instrumental in putting together. He had a presence across Fayette County and political friendships that extended far beyond the state,” he said.

Law firm Hamilton Burgess Young & Pollard issued a statement just after Hamilton passed. It read: “Mr. Hamilton was fond of saying, ‘The practice of law is varied and interesting,’ it will be less so without him.”

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Sarah_E_Plummer

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