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Published: Monday, 4/21/2003

Bedford teacher left mark on many lives

TEMPERANCE - Betty Jean Story Hamilton, a schoolteacher who fostered writers throughout her life, died of a stroke Thursday at Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Kentucky. She was 73.

Mrs. Hamilton was born on a chicken farm in rural Bracken County, Kentucky, in 1929. She graduated high school at age 16, and managed to earn bachelor's and master's degrees from Kentucky Wesleyan College and Eastern Michigan University, said her nephew, Philip Yelton. She married Raymond Hamilton, a World War II veteran, but the union ended in divorce.

In 1951, Mrs. Hamilton came to Michigan to teach kindergarten at Jackman Road Elementary School. She spent the next 30 years teaching grammar-school grades in the Bedford School District, and took leadership roles in a long list of honorary societies and professional organizations for teachers. She served 21 years on the executive board of the Bedford Education Association, and was president of the local chapter of International Reading Association. She retired in 1981.

“Kids were always coming up to tell her the imprint she left on their lives,” Mr. Yelton said. “She just had this magnetic personality. She traveled a lot in her life, and made friends all over the world - friends who were still her friends 20 years later.”

Her gift of ready friendship served her well in her second career as an educational consultant, Mr. Yelton said. As the mind behind Betty Hamilton and Associates, she taught “Power Writing,” presenting workplace and school seminars on “how to write exactly what you want to say in the fewest number of words.”

“She kept her little duplex in Temperance, but she was never there,” her nephew said. “Her program was a real success, and she was always on the road with it, or visiting her friends in Aruba, or down here in Kentucky with the family. `Auntie' was the cornerstone of our family,” Mr. Yelton added.

Mrs. Hamilton is survived by her mother, Irene Dickson Story; a sister, Phyllis Yelton Liles, and brother, J.W. Story.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Concord United Methodist Church, Brooksville, Ky.; Visitation will be held locally at 2 p.m. Saturday at Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance, with a memorial service at 5 p.m.

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