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June 14, 2005

History Professor Hugh Hamill Dies At 76

Hugh Hamill, emeritus professor of history, died on April 30. He was 76.

A resident of Mansfield Center, Hamill joined the University faculty in 1961. During his 33 years here, he taught history, was associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and was a founder and director of the Center for Latin American Caribbean Studies, later renamed Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Former colleague Richard Brown describes him as a “thoroughly admirable person and a model professor, who especially recognized the good in his students and colleagues.

“His contributions and his example were integral to building excellence in the history department and Latin American studies,” says Brown, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History. “Most of all, however, I remember Hugh as a gentle, thoughtful person of extraordinary kindness and generosity.”

Elizabeth Mahan describes Hamill as a “lovely man – warm, compassionate, and sincerely interested in what other people thought and had to say.

“I came to revere him for his wisdom, kindness, intelligence and immense humanity,” says Mahan, associate executive director of the Office of International Affairs.

Allen Ward, professor emeritus of history, says Hamill was a “kind and good man, a wonderful colleague, and a great teacher of both undergraduates and graduate students.”

Some of Hamill’s former graduate students now have distinguished careers in the field of Latin American history.

Born in Philadelphia, Hamill earned a bachelor of arts degree, Phi Beta Kappa, from Amherst College and a master’s and doctorate from Harvard in Latin American history. He taught at Ohio Wesleyan University from 1957 to 1961.

He was the president of the New England Council of Latin American Studies, and was appointed to the editorial board of the Hispanic American Historical Review. He also was senior editor of The Americas. His book about the Hidalgo revolt is known as one of the major studies of that period in Mexican history.

An active member of the community, Hamill organized the Historic District in Mansfield Center. He served twice as president of Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, and was a member of the Mansfield Democratic Committee. He also was on the board of the Center for Learning in Retirement. He was an accomplished violinist and an avid fly fisherman.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Elizabeth Dwight Cole, two daughters, two sons, and nine grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to the UConn Foundation, Hugh M. Hamill Graduate Fellowship in Latin American History, University of Connecticut, Department of History, 241 Glenbrook Road, Wood Hall, Storrs, CT 06269-2103 or Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust Inc., P.O. Box 4, Mansfield Center, CT 06250.