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Hamilton-Whitener Scholarship Will Benefit Children of UCC Ministers

January 02, 2013

Category: Academics, Alumni, Religion & Philosophy



Children of a United Church of Christ ordained minister who have financial need and good academic standing will benefit from a new scholarship established at Catawba College by the Rev. Dr. Thomas R. Hamilton '55 and wife Jane Whitener Hamilton '53 of Newton.

The couple, who met at Catawba while students, know how vital financial assistance can be to students attending college. "We know how important it is to have help when you need it," Jane explained. "A friend stepped forth and helped to make it possible for me to attend Catawba."

Jane grew up in Catawba County and is a descendant of its historical first white settler, Heinrich Weidner. Born to school teachers Gordon Lee and Susie McGill Whitener, she was the youngest of five children. Church and education were instilled in their daily lives from birth. Attending Johns River Camp, Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds and other youth church meetings were formative parts of Jane's years. While at Catawba, Jane majored in Religion and Philosophy and also honored her father's advice to "Get a teacher's certificate which will be the best life insurance you can have."   Her first position was at First Evangelical and Reformed Church in Lexington.

Tom came to Catawba College from Massillon, Ohio after transferring as a sophomore from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio and without having seen Catawba's campus. His goal in life was to become an ordained minister. He was the one of six children of Melvin R. and Anna Kutz Hamilton and came from the Evangelical side of the United Church of Christ. Working in a varied number of jobs enabled Tom to earn his way through school. He was a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient at Catawba's 2012 Homecoming.

Jane and Tom were married May 31, 1955 with Tom entering Eden Theological Seminary in Webster Groves, Missouri, in September and Jane teaching second grade. "What a privilege it has been to co-partner in ministry with the opportunity to enable persons to become more spiritually mature as you are allowed to share in individual joys and sorrows, laughs and tears and possibly making a difference in lives. I wouldn't trade these experiences for anything," Jane reminiscences.

The Hamiltons returned to Newton in Catawba County after many years of Tom's different pastoral postings to accept an intentional interim at Trinity UCC in Conover. The couple is in familiar ancestral territory for Jane. The last of her four siblings, Harry Lee Whitener, lives nearby in Hickory.

The Hamiltons' older son Thomas Lee, a 1978 Catawba alumnus, lives with his family in Roswell, Ga., while son Daniel Whitener Hamilton and family make their home in Evans, Ga. A daughter, Joy Anna Hamilton Washburn, now deceased, attended Catawba College and graduated from Elon College (now University).        


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