Iowa Park Leader
Hall of Fame Class of 2011
Bob Hamilton was born Feb. 12, 1931, in Grandfield, Okla., but grew up in Hereford. His first experience with newspapers was selling them in businesses when they came off the press of the Hereford Brand during World War II. He was hired by the Hereford Brand in 1948 as a janitor before school and a printer’s devil after school.
His first writing experience happened the same year, when he began covering Hereford High School sports; and soon afterward, he was recruited to string for the Amarillo News and Globe-Times.
Hamilton dropped out of school in January 1950 to join the U.S. Air Force. A year later, he was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base, in Anchorage, Alaska. After serving four years in the Air Force, he enrolled in Amarillo Junior College under the GI Bill. There he majored in journalism and worked part time for the Amarillo paper, covering sports.
Hamilton’s involvement in barbershop quartet singing led to his first full-time newspaper job. The co-publishers of the Moore County News, Gene Alford and Howard Jacob, were members of a newly formed chapter at Dumas, and were visiting with the Amarillo group. The three became acquainted, and Hamilton was offered a job upon his graduation in 1956.
Sixty days after he started his job, an explosion occurred at the Shamrock McKee Refinery. Eighteen volunteer firefighters were killed and several more, including Hamilton, were injured. Hamilton covered the tragedy as a reporter and photographer and phoned his story into the Associated Press from the hospital.
He was later awarded the Anson Jones Award for lay medical reporting.
He was the first weekly reporter to receive this prestigious award. He was also nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in photojournalism for his photographic coverage of the explosion.
Over the years, Hamilton has worked at and owned newspapers in Dumas, Plainview, Littlefield, Olton and Portales before moving to Iowa Park in 1969 to establish the Iowa Park Leader with his wife Dolores.
As publisher of the Iowa Park Leader, Hamilton served as president of the Texas Press Association in 1977-78. He also has served as president of the West Texas Press Association, North and East Texas Press Association, and as a member of the Texas Newspaper Foundation Board of Trustees.
He was forced to cut back on his work hours at the Leader in 1995 after experiencing a stroke.
He died in 2008 at age 77. Dolores continues to serve as publisher of the Leader.
Hamilton was inducted into the Texas Newspaper Hall of Fame in ceremonies in San Marcos in 2011 as one of four members of the Hall’s fifth class of honorees.