Irene Lucille Hamill (nee Gray)

Irene Hamill, 86 years 7 months, born September 16, 1925, in Twin Falls, Idaho passed away peacefully April 16, 2012 in Issaquah, Washington.

Irene is survived by her two children: son, Lt. Colonel George Gray “Bill” Hamill (USAF, Ret.) of Monument, CO and daughter, Patty Ann Hamill-Hope of Snoqualmie, WA. She has four grandchildren: Heather Anne Hamill, Sally Elizabeth Garcia, William Robert Hamill, and Donald William Conley. She has eleven great-grandchildren: Sydney Noel Hamill, Adriana Elizabeth Garcia, Gabriela Irene Garcia, Sofia Isabel Garcia, Emma Inez Garcia, Kaia Quinn Hamill, Anderson Marie Hamill, Colby Bauer Hamill, Boden Garrett Hamill, Brandon Emerson Conley, and Elsa Nicole Conley. She has one surviving sister, Rosalie Claire Barbour of Boise, ID and one surviving brother, Lt. Colonel William Wallace Gray (USA, ret.) of Lemon Grove, CA. She was preceded in death by her brother James Edward Gray and her parents Charles Chester Gray and Mary Claire Gray.

Irene was a mother, wife, artist, animal lover, and voracious reader who continued her search for knowledge throughout her life. Above all else she instilled a sense of integrity and faith in her children by word and deed.

Irene lived her early years in Boise, Idaho until her family moved to Denver, CO in December, 1940. She graduated from Denver South High School in 1943. During High School she was very proud of her first job working in a bakery after school. After graduating from high school, Irene attended Denver University (DU) where she majored in Art History. While at DU she met George Laverty Hamill who was born in Ballycastle, North Ireland and grew up in Denver. They were married in December, 1944. Their son George was born in 1948 and daughter Patty in 1953 in Denver, CO. Irene and George, along with George’s parents, started a construction contracting business, J.Q. Hamill and Son. The business was highly successful until December 3rd, 1951 when an U.S. Air Force bomber, trying to get to Lowry AFB, crashed into five homes that they were building in Denver. ( The family moved to San Diego, CA area to start over in 1953.

Irene’s husband George abandoned the family in 1959, leaving Irene to raise “Little” George and Patty by herself. This was a time when women typically made their husband and children the focus of their lives and pursuit of higher education and a career were secondary. In order to support her children, Irene studied to become a real estate salesperson; however, after earning her license, the market was so depressed that she could not adequately provide for her children. Irene enrolled in Dental Hygienist College and graduated valedictorian. Her drawings associated with her class work remained on display at the college for many years. Again, this career did not provide a living wage for her and her children. She then studied and passed tests for government employment and worked at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. Although her government service grade and clerk-typist duties were not on a level commensurate with her abilities, she was proud of being given the task of writing speeches for the Admiral for whom she worked and who recognized her inherent intelligence and writing skills.

Irene’s priority as a mother was to give her children strong moral values and a chance to succeed in life. George graduated from the Air Force Academy with an engineering degree and subsequently retired from the U.S. Air Force before he entered a second career as a high school math and science teacher and head track coach. George is now retired in Monument, CO. Patty graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in history. She worked her way up to becoming a theatre manager before going to work for Price Club/Costco. Patty is currently a director of payroll operations at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, WA.

Although Irene had to work hard through the years to support her family, she still found time for her great loves of art, animals, and reading. Irene demonstrated her artistic talent at a very young age, drawing pictures of everything and everyone. She became a very accomplished artist, producing pencil sketches and oil paintings, her favorite mediums. Irene always cared for animals. She had a natural attraction to them and they to her. It is said that as a young child she would pet the wild squirrels, which of course scared the adults for fear she would be bitten, but she never was. Irene enjoyed reading throughout her life. She loved history and had a very enquiring mind. For example, she would read a book on the Civil War, then search out primary-source writings of the day such as Harper’s Magazine and read what was being written contemporaneously.

Irene’s Christian Science religion gave her much peace throughout her life. She completely read the King James Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures many times.

There is no higher measure of success than raising your children as good and honorable people, no matter the trials and tribulations encountered in life. Her children thank her for everything she taught them and know that she is now in a better place.

One Response to “Irene Lucille Hamill (nee Gray)”

  • Suzy Foote McDowell says:

    Irene was a great mom! She raise two beautiful, wonderful children who are great active helpful adults, Bill and Patty! God Bless her in Heaven!!

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