Black Camel: James (Jim) Hamblin

James (Jim) Hamblin of Knox, Ind., died February 27 of natural causes at his winter home in Englewood, Fla.

He was well known as principal of the Knox Junior High School and as a teacher of industrial arts, mechanical drawing, wood shop, welding and driver’s education. He retired in 1982 after 38 years with the Knox Community Schools. His appointment as coach of the Knox Varsity Football Squad (6-player) was interrupted by World War II when he enlisted in the U. S. Navy. Followinghis three-year service, he returned to coach winning junior varsity basketball squads and track teams at Knox. He was a basketball referee and also a starter at Knox track meets. He has been in the Knox High Athletic Hall of Fame since 2011.

A life member of the National Eagle Scout Association, Jim was scoutmaster of the very active Troop 13 in Knox for a dozen years. He was director of Camp Topeneebee in Michigan City for two summers and earned the Silver Beaver for distinguished service to the Pottawattomie Council. He was a Vigil member of the Order of the Arrow.

Jim was raised a Master Mason by his father in the Monong Lodge No. 208 in Francesville, Ind. He was Past Worshipful Master of Knox Lodge No. 639 and a 75-year member of the Free & Accepted Masons of Indiana. He became Most Wise Master of the John Hazen White Chapter of Rose Croix of the Valley of South Bend; and he received the 33°in the Scottish Rite at the Supreme Council in Boston in September 1987. He was Worthy Patron (twice) of the Order of the Eastern Star in Knox and a member of Orak Shrine.

He married his childhood sweetheart Eleanor Grace Gitzlaff on July 31, 1938, in Three Oaks, Mich. Keeping their marriage a secret, they attended Manchester College, where Jim earned his baccalaureate degree in 1941 on a basketball scholarship. Following the war, he earned his master’s from Ball State Teachers College. Jim and Eleanor, also a teacher in the Knox schools, were active class sponsors and involved with their children’s athletic, scholastic and musical pursuits.

During wartime, Jim was Honor Man of Company 1566 at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1943 and served at Camp Peary, Bainbridge (where he trained in the Gene Tunney program) and at the embarkation barracks on Treasure Island off San Francisco. He earned the rank of SPC 2d Class. He was a member of American Legion Post 131.

Throughout his life Jim was an avid hunter and fisherman. He and Eleanor built two cabins in Northwest Wisconsin, which the family and countless friends enjoy every summer. He ran a trapline from the 1960s through the 1980s. He farmed land in Pulaski County and Starke County, and was always proud of these “second jobs” that supplemented his work as an educator.

He was born to Angie Audra Mae Reese and James Marion Hamblin on April 18, 1919, in Francesville, Ind. His parents and brother David L. Hamblin, Sr. and sister Eva Ruth Hamblin Weaver, and his wife preceded him in death.

He is survived by his children Jane Ann Hamblin, J.D., of Columbus, Ohio, and James Walter Hamblin, D.D.S. (Nancy Lee Johns) of Munster, Ind. and two grandchildren, James Richard Hamblin, M.D. of Brooklyn, New York, and Lauren Anne Hamblin, J.D. of Los Angeles. Also surviving are niece Marilyn A. Britton (Carolyn) of Crawfordsville, Ind.; and nephews James E. Weaver, Ph.D. (Mara ) of Mason, Ohio; Charles W. Weaver, J.D. of Knox, Ind.; David L. Hamblin, Jr. of Lansing, Ill.; Donald E. Weaver (Jackie) of Sandy, Utah; and Rev. Jeffrey L. Hamblin, M.D. of New York.

Visitation with the family will be at 12:30 p.m. (Central time) Saturday, March 4 at the M.C. Smith Funeral Home in Knox, followed the Masonic Funeral Rite at 1:30 p.m. (Central time) and funeral conducted by Pastor Dean Fager of the Knox United Methodist Church. Burial will be at Crown Hill Cemetery.

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