CONWAY — Arts Jubilee board president Bob Hamilton died unexpectedly at his home from undetermined causes last weekend.
Hamilton, 60, was employed as a registered nurse at Mineral Springs nursing home in North Conway.
He had called in sick Saturday morning, according to fellow Arts Jubilee board member and friend John Colbath, and when Hamilton did not report for work or call Mineral Springs on Sunday, co-workers contacted police, according to Conway Police Lt. Chris Mattei.
Police checked his home on Chase Avenue in Conway Village at 7:51 a.m. and found him unconscious and not breathing, Mattei said.
Hamilton's daughter, Molly, was notified. She and her mother, Hamilton's former wife, Verlene Ohlson Hamilton, live in Montana.
Kennett High graduates, Hamilton and his former wife ran Firehouse Photo on Main Street in Conway in the 1980s and '90s. He attended nursing school after they closed that business.
Mattei said there was no suspicion of foul play but that Hamilton's body was taken to the state medical examiner in Concord to determine cause of death. Results were still pending as of Tuesday.
Although fit and active, Hamilton was a Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetic.
According to Colbath, Hamilton had told others at Arts Jubilee Thursday night that he was having chest pains. But he added, "He was really glad to be there as Ceili Rain was one of his favorites."
Colbath, who has a nursing degree, said they had a long friendship, as he trained Hamilton as a nurse at New Hampshire Community Technical College approximately six years ago.
He said Arts Jubilee plans to honor Hamilton's memory at this Thursday's concert.
"We will be doing something for Bob," said Colbath. "I know he would want us to continue with the show. I do know that all of us will be there crying. He had been on the board for three or four years, and this year as president he was doing such a great job.
"It is such a great loss for Arts Jubilee, and for the community, as he was beloved by all of the patients at Mineral Springs for his kindness."
Cindy Russell, executive director of Arts Jubilee, shared a note from Hamilton that he had written to his fellow board members following the Ceili Rain concert:
"Thank you to everyone on the Arts Jubilee Board; Audience response at the end of last night's concert was tremendous! I know it went a little late but the energy created by Ceili Rain was truly special. Jeanne Limner's Axis Dancers brought tears of joy to many in the audience. I am truly honored and grateful to be part of such special and dedicated board that brings such joy to our community. Thank you all!"
"That certainly speaks about Bob's passion for Arts Jubilee and our involvement in the community" Russell said. "He loved being involved and was always grateful for the opportunity to participate on the board.
"We all were privileged to have had Bob in our lives," she continued, "and I think back to the message that he wrote after Thursday's concert and how much he loved it.
"I will remember Bob in that context. And of course, Bob would have wanted Arts Jubilee to have a great rest of the summer, and we should do so in his honor."
On Monday, unofficial word of Hamilton's death appeared on Facebook. Posts flooded the site, with many saluting Hamilton for his compassionate nursing care.
"My folks (the late June and Ralph Wiggin) grew very fond of Bob during their time at Mineral Springs," said Brian Wiggin of Center Conway. "He would come in daily to converse with them even though they weren't on his wing. He always addressed them as Mr. and Mrs. Wiggin. He always informed dad when upcoming sports events were going to be on TV and sometimes would come in to view scores with dad and watch a bit of the show. My world was nicer because of Bob Hamilton. God bless!"
"I am so sad. He was so good with (former Kennett High Baseball Coach) Bob (Burns) while he was there. Hugs and prayers to Molly and the rest of the family," said Linda Burns.
Bill Arnold wrote, "Bob was there for both my mom and uncle at Mineral Springs, his presence there helped us feel confident that there were caring staff watching over our loved ones. Very sad. Hearts and prayers to his family and friends."
Added Phil Haynes — about Hamilton's role as a trombone player in the MWV Band when it opened for the July 14 Arts Jubilee season opener — "Many of the guests at Mineral Springs attended the Arts Jubilee concert to hear Bob play — he was a star."
Tamworth Director of Parks and Recreation Parker Roberts added, "A truly good and caring person. He made my father feel special during his stay at Mineral Springs. Bob will be missed."
Added Maureen Seavey of North Conway, "I, too, have a heavy heart with the death of Bob Hamilton. Bob took care of (my husband) Charlie when he was at Sunbridge, or Mineral Springs as they now call it. So compassionate to the residents that he cared for there. Always with a smile and a hi when I saw him. He will be dearly missed. RIP Bob."
A call placed to Mineral Springs for comment was not returned as of press time Tuesday.
Charlie Sutton of Furber and White Funeral Home of North Conway said plans were incomplete for Hamilton as of Tuesday but that he had been in touch with his family.
"It's very sad. He was a great guy," said Sutton.