WHEN FURMAN AWARDED James L. Hamrick an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1996, it recognized him as “a man of unfailing good humor, quiet modesty and great wisdom.”
He was also a loyal alumnus, textile executive and community leader, a man of integrity and honor. When he died May 23 at the age of 89, the university lost a valued counselor and friend.
Born in Shelby, N.C., Hamrick served in the U.S. Army during World War II, seeing action in France and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. Upon his return to the States he enrolled at Furman, where he received a degree in mathematics in 1950, was a student leader and was elected to Quaternion, the select men’s honorary society.
He went on to earn a master’s degree in political science from Duke University and then joined Milliken & Company in Spartanburg, S.C., where for 40 years he provided outstanding service in various executive positions. After retiring in 1993 as vice president of corporate financial planning, he continued to serve the company for almost 20 years as a consultant and as executive director of the Milliken Foundation.
Active in civic and cultural affairs in Spartanburg, he was a longtime Furman trustee and a two-time chair of the board. Known for his firm, steady leadership, he presided over the 1995 inauguration of David E. Shi as the university’s 10th president.
Hamrick was a member of the political science department’s Hall of Fame, a founding member of the Richard Furman Society, and was active in the Paladin Club, Partners Program and Heritage Society. With his wife and college sweetheart, the late Peggy Cater Hamrick ’50, he endowed scholarships for students in music and political science.