Agnes Edith (Mehling) Hamilton 1925-2013
Agnes will always be remembered by her daughters for her love of literature (including reading books aloud at the dinner table and the many poems she could recite by memory), the lovely flowers she kept on the dining room table and living room mantel (no matter what season), her handmade Christmas cards, her hundreds of handmade ornaments to celebrate every holiday, the delicious meals she prepared, and the numerous dinner parties she hosted. She enjoyed wildflowers, rhododendrons, the Olympic Mountains, the Washington and Oregon Coasts, operas, plays, and ballet. She passed on her love of nature, literature, the performing arts, and her belief in the value of education, to her daughters and many others. Agnes Edith (Mehling) Hamilton died February 11, 2013 at age 87. Agnes was born in Vernon, British Columbia on July 6, 1925, to Peter and Edith (Randall) Mehling. Her sibling, Frank, was born a year later. Agnes’ father emigrated from Germany in 1895, was Head Horticulturist with the Coldstream Ranch near Vernon, and later owned his own orchard nearby. Agnes’ mother followed her brothers to BC from England in the early 1900s and worked as Matron of the West Summerland Hospital and later, as Matron of Okanogan College. Edith married Peter in 1924 in Calgary, Alberta. Agnes spent her childhood living on the family orchard. She attended Vernon High School where she graduated as valedictorian of her class and attended an additional year (senior matriculation) before starting college. Agnes was 17 when her father died and 18 when her mother suffered a stroke. Shortly thereafter, they moved to Vancouver so Agnes and Frank could attend University of BC. Agnes was torn between her love of literature and the sciences, but decided the practical goal was to pursue science. She earned a Master’s degree in bacteriology from UBC in 1950, researching Staphylococcus enterotoxin. That same year she married (John) Kelvin Hamilton whom she met as a chemistry laboratory teaching assistant at the university. They lived in Minneapolis, MN while Kelvin finished his PhD in agricultural biochemistry and Agnes worked in a research lab studying megaloblastic anemia and scurvy at the University of MN. Their first daughter, Kathryn, was born before they moved to Shelton in 1954 when Kelvin took a job with the Olympic Research Division of Rayonier Inc. They had three more daughters: Susan, Laura, and Florence. Agnes was a homemaker and sewed matching dresses and elaborate ballet costumes for her four daughters. She also
knitted numerous fishermen sweaters and did Celtic quilting, smocking, needlepoint, cross-stitch, and bargello. She was a member of the South Sound Creative Stitchery Guild. Agnes was a Brownie troop leader and Girl Scout Cookie chairman. She was co-leader of the Pizzicato Junior Music Club for many years. Agnes taught Sunday school (5th grade), sang in the choir, belonged to the altar guild, and helped with oyster dinners at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Shelton. Later she was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Olympia, before returning to St. David’s. Agnes was an active board member of the Mason County Community Concert Association, serving as their membership secretary for 12 years. She was a proud member of P.E.O. Chapter B, joining them in 1968. She volunteered with the Puget Sound Blood Bank for over 25 years, usually helping with donor registration. Agnes was a lifetime-member of the Mason General Hospital Auxiliary, serving on their nursing scholarship committee for over 25 years; for many of these years she was chair. She made numerous crafts for their gift bar too. She was a life-member of the Georgine Reed Children’s Orthopedic Guild. Agnes and Kelvin were active in the local chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and their home was surrounded with dozens of rhododendrons. In her later years Agnes enjoyed crossword puzzles and she was incredibly good at jigsaw puzzles. Agnes’ father Peter preceded her in death in 1943 and her mother Edith in 1959. Her husband of 37 years, Kelvin, preceded her in death in 1987 and her brother, Frank (Mehling) in 2008. Agnes is survived by her four daughters: Kathryn Hamilton Wang (Steve) of Olympia, Susan Edith Hamilton (Tim Bates) of Seattle, Laura Maureen Hamilton of Shelton, Florence Ferguson (Todd) of Poulsbo, and by four grandchildren: Chris Ferguson, Ben Ferguson, Kelvin Hamilton Bates, and Eileen Hamilton Bates. Agnes’ sister-in-law, Maysie Mehling, and nieces, Carol and Peri (Iain Bruce), and nephew, Peter (Gitta Oldendorff), and two grand-nephews, Max Oldendorff and Lucas Mehling also survive her. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations may be made in Agnes’ name to the nursing scholarship program of the Mason County Hospital Auxiliary, the Mason County Concert Association, or to St. David’s Episcopal Church. A celebration of Agnes’ life will be held at St. David’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 1:30 PM. The family was served by McComb Funeral Home.