James E. Hamilton; 1944-2014: Envirosafe leader guided waste landfill’s expansion

James E. Hamilton
James E. Hamilton

CURTICE, Ohio — James E. Hamilton, a former president of Envirosafe Services in Oregon who oversaw the expansion of the hazardous waste landfill, died Friday at home in Ottawa County’s Allen Township. He was 69.

He had lung cancer, said his wife, Christine. Mr. Hamilton retired in April, 2013, as vice president and geo-environmental group manager of Mannik & Smith Group. He’d worked for the consulting firm since 1996.

Mr. Hamilton’s experience bridged several disciplines. He knew about running a waste facility and dealing with regulators and technical issues and understood business concerns, said Dean Niese, Mannik & Smith chief operating officer.

“He had a breadth of experience he was able to bring to our consulting practice,” Mr. Niese said. “He was a true gentleman, but he challenged me and those he worked with. He wouldn’t allow us to go at something without an extremely thorough review of all the information.’

Richard Sargeant, an attorney who represents Envirosafe, said: “He didn’t demand you work any harder than he did. He worked very hard.”

The former Fondessy Enterprises Inc., Envirosafe’s predecessor, hired Mr. Hamilton in 1978 as a laboratory technician. His rise was a matter of strategy, his wife said. He learned about business and hazardous waste and studied environmental regulations.

He led the emergency response team for chemical spills and, by 1981, he was director of technical services. He was named president in 1992 of what was then Envirosafe. Under his watch, the state’s only hazardous-waste landfill received a permit to expand, over the protests of citizens’ and environmental groups and officials in Oregon.

“He hired the team that put that facility together,” Mr. Sargeant said. “He was a strong leader. He was strong on compliance. You don’t get a permit unless you’re in compliance” with regulations.

The facility and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency negotiated for months before arriving at a $70,000 fine in October, 1996, to settle several violations that occurred at the facility from 1993-95.

“History has proven that his leadership and those who have since been involved in the facility have done what they said they would do,” Mr. Niese said. “The facility is well maintained and has a good track record of compliance.”

Mr. Hamilton served from 1992-96 on the Genoa Area Local Board of Education. In 1999, he was appointed to fill the remaining months of an unexpired term on the board.

He was born July 20, 1944, in Hamilton, Ohio, to Juanita and Earl Hamilton. He was a graduate of Lemon-Monroe High School and received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Miami University. He served stateside in the Army and the Army Reserve. He worked for more than a decade at Procter & Gamble.

He was a member of Zoar Lutheran Church, Perrysburg.

Surviving are his wife, Christine, whom he married Dec. 1, 1973; sons, Matthew, Adam, and Zachary Hamilton; sister, Betty Peck, and a granddaughter.

Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. today in the Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg. Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday in Zoar Lutheran Church, Perrysburg, where the family will receive guests after 10 a.m.

The family suggests tributes to Hospice of Northwest Ohio, the Victory Center, or a charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.