Former Plainfield milkman had time for family and customers
By Denise Baran-Unland For The Herald-News May 20, 2012 10:30PM
Donald Hamilton | Supplied photo
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:02PM
During school holidays, Cindy Sansale, of Montgomery, reveled in tagging along with her father, Donald Hamilton, of Plainfield, on his milk delivery route.
Those were the days when people had gray metal boxes on their porches for dairy product drop-offs and when women generally didn’t work outside the home so they could customize their orders on the spot.
“He delivered a lot of ethnic neighborhoods,” Sansale said. “At Christmastime, the ladies gave us all kinds of goodies to take home.”
Hamilton, Sansale said, didn’t wear a watch since the amount of required time to complete the job was irrelevant to him. Hamilton enjoyed taking the necessary time to become acquainted with his customers, share a joke or story and listen to their needs and preferences.
“He used to ask one little boy, the son of the man who cut his hair, ‘Are you going to help me finish the route today?’ ” Sansale said. “The little boy always looked forward to it. My dad would take him to finish the block, then he would say, ‘Thank you for helping me.’ ”
A typical day for Hamilton meant rising at 4:30 a.m. and finishing the route at 5 p.m. Yet, it was the perfect job for a man accustomed to humble service since childhood and who loved the independence of working outdoors. He never missed a day of work; he always gave 100 percent.
One of Hamilton’s three sisters suffered from childhood polio, so Hamilton had helped his mother care for her. His family also raised rabbits for their meat — up to 150 rabbits at one time — so Hamilton assisted his father with those duties, too. Hamilton learned to carry out every act with humble obedience and respect.
Through the years, until his retirement in 1984, Hamilton worked for a variety of companies: Pikes Dairy, as well as Oatman Dairy in Aurora and Lockwood Dairy in Plainfield. Despite his busy schedule, Hamilton always had time for his family.
“In the winter, he used to take me sledding after work,” Sansale said. “I never realized at the time that my poor father had been out in the cold all day.”
In later years, Hamilton transferred his keen work ethic and generous spirit of service to Zion Lutheran Church in Plainfield. He cooked for church dinners, treated everyone with compassion and ensured newcomers felt welcomed and accepted. Hamilton was 91 when he died April 11.
“No matter how he sick he was in the last few years, he always had a smile, too, for you,” Sansale said. “People have been saying that, when they get to heaven, my dad will be there to greet them.”
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.