Wife of Luverne alum donates scholarship funds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005

To Jim Hamil, said his wife, Lorna, Luverne was always home.

"Luverne truly held a special place in Jim's heart," she said "He never lost sight of that."

Jim graduated from Luverne High School in 1953. 50 years later he returned for his class reunion in July 2003. Lorna recalled that Jim was especially happy to be back among his former friends and classmates.

"That summer was truly wonderful for him," said Lorna. "He was so thrilled to reconnect with the people he knew in Luverne. He often wondered to himself what kind of education he'd received in a small, southern town. Later, he decided that he'd received a very good education."

Two months later, though, Jim died suddenly at his home in Anchorage, Alaska. The couple owned a home in Colorado and Lorna decided that rather than renting the property, she would sell it and use the funds for something to honor Jim's legacy.

She talked with Jim's brother, Charles, who still resides in Luverne, and decided to set-up a scholarship fund in Jim's memory.

"It was something I wanted to do that would allow Jim's name to live on," she said.

The $45,000 Lorna donated to Luverne High School will be used for the purpose of providing scholarships who exhibit exceptional academic ability and who intend to pursue a college education. The scholarships will be a one-time award in the amount of $1,620 to the valedictorian and $1,080 to the salutatorian.

"This doesn't happen everyday," said Luverne Principal Earl Franks. "We are deeply grateful to Mrs. Hamil and we know that the name Jim Hamil will be carried on through these scholarships for generations to come."

Should the valedictorian or salutatorian receive a four-year scholarship from a post secondary institution for full tuition, room and board, the Jim Hamil Academic Scholarships will then be awarded to the students with the next highest numerical average.

"Mrs. Hamil really wanted to ensure that this money would go to those students who are need," said Franks of the stipulation.

The endowment also allows for future administrations to increase the funds available for the scholarships if the income from the principal is sufficient to pay.

Jim graduated as class valedictorian at Luverne. He was president of the Beta Club, a member of the Tiger Rag staff, class treasurer and class president in his senior year.

Lorna said her husband would have graduated in three years as a junior, but was one credit shy. He was forced to take a full course load in his senior season. Ironically, the valedictorian the previous year had received scholarship money, but there was none available when Jim graduated.

He entered the United States Air Force as a cadet in 1955 and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1956. He stayed in the air force for 20 years, piloted C-130 airplanes and garnered a number of meritorious service awards. His last 15 years of employment was spent with the air force as an accountant.

Jim is buried in Emmaus Cemetery in Luverne.