Lillie Belle Hamilton (2011)

Lillie Belle Drake HAMILTON was born in 1920, and believed that people should explore the world, starting with the world’s languages. Proficient in Spanish, French, Italian, and Latin, “she wanted people,” in the words of her daughter Cynthia, also a Spanish teacher, “to understand there are places in the world where different languages are spoken and things are completely different.” Although she never learned to drive a car, she visited 116 countries and shared inspiring experiences and artifacts with her students. She graduated from Agnes Scott College and earned an M.A. from Middlebury. She was also politically active, having been born within a year of passage of the 19th Amendment that extended voting rights to women, she attended political conventions and took to heart the report commissioned by the War Department from Professor Edmund Walsh of Georgetown University, which proposed studies for the Students’ Army Training Corps (the predecessor of ROTC). For two years she taught at the Woman’s Teacher Training College in Tripoli, Libya, then returned to Atlanta and taught school at every level: elementary, junior, and senior high school in Fulton County, Georgia. She was a founder of the Foreign Language Association of Georgia (FLAG), which in 1968 named her Latin teacher of the year and Spanish teacher of the year in 1973. She was president of the National Spanish Honor Society, Co-Chair of the Georgia Junior Classical League, and Contest Chair for the National Junior Classical League, where she participated in 32 NJCL conventions. She retired in 1981 from the former College Park High School and was inducted into the Georgia Teacher Hall of Fame. In 1962, she solicited a letter on the value of foreign Language study from the USA Ambassador to the United Nations, Adlai Stevenson. The Ambassador replied with a letter written partly in Latin. In 1952 she married Victor Hamilton, also proficient in several languages, and over the years they became legendary travelers, accompanying their two daughters all over the world. She died 2 October 2011 at the age of 92 in Union City, Georgia.

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