Charmaine Hamilton, 60, of Philadelphia, a devoted church leader who worked with the disabled for many years before joining the registrar’s office at the University of Pennsylvania, died Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.
Known for her bright smile, infectious laugh, and positive outlook, Mrs. Hamilton was beloved at Grace Lutheran Church, where she worshiped, and at Penn, where she had worked as a registrar support specialist since 2015, her family said.
“She was a happy person, a caring, loving, happy person,” said sister Ruth Salters.
The sentiment was shared by those who knew her at Penn.“Your sister’s smile lit up my life,” one of her supervisors told the family.
Mrs. Hamilton was the oldest of four children born to Leon Evans and Ruth Whitehurst Evans of West Philadelphia.
“We always had good times growing up,” Salters said. “She was always supportive, even when we were children. She helped us to know right from wrong. We wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
Mrs. Hamilton graduated from University City High School and married her high school sweetheart, Charles D. Hamilton, in 1982. The couple, who had both grown up in Mantua, would have celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary on Nov. 20.
She attended Bloomsburg and Temple Universities before earning a master’s degree in human services from Lincoln University in 1994.
Influenced by her parents, Mrs. Hamilton worked with adults with disabilities for most of her career, and also managed teams at Community Interactions Inc. in Delaware County and United Cerebral Palsy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, her sister said.
Their father had been active in a community development organization, Salters said, and their mother worked for a school for disabled children.
In 2015, Mrs. Hamilton went to work for the registrar’s office at Penn, where she joined Women of Color at Penn and the Penn Knitting Circle. Last year, she was awarded the finance department’s Best in Class award for “Going Above and Beyond.”
Mrs. Hamilton received a Church Leadership Certificate from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, where she had studied, her sister said. In addition, she served as president of the church council and was a regular speaker at Grace Lutheran, in Mantua.
On Oct. 27, less than two weeks before her death, Mrs. Hamilton was the speaker at a Women’s Day service at First United Baptist Church in Mantua, which she attended as a child. She was overwhelmed when the church surprised her by having her mother introduce her, her sister-in-law Karen Hamilton said.
“It was beautiful," Salters added. “She got to hear her accolades while she was still here. My mother talked about what a wonderful woman and woman of God she had become.”
She was in tears as she looked at the audience full of people she had grown up with, in the church where she had been baptized, and said her life had gone full circle, her sister said.
She did not have children, but was devoted to her nieces and nephews. Salters said she visited their houses, knitted sweaters and blankets for them, and hosted pajama parties with nieces and great-nieces. She also enjoyed fishing.
In addition to her husband, parents, and sister, Mrs. Hamilton is survived by a brother.