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Arletta Vera Hamilton

Arletta Vera Hamilton, 95 years old of Palm Harbor, Florida died peacefully on Saturday September 2, 2017 in her home at St. Marks Village under the loving care of her husband of 72 years, Maxwell Thomas Hamilton.


Arletta was born on September 9, 1921 in Dysart, Iowa to a farming family. One of two children, Arletta was a pioneer in her day, pursuing higher education and serving in the armed forces before many women dared. Arletta graduated from St. Luke’s Methodist Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1942. She worked in industrial nursing at Rath Packaging Corporation in Waterloo, Iowa before entering the United States Navy in 1945. Arletta was known for her hard work and leadership, serving as head nurse of both the Admitting Surgery and Psychopathic Departments. She married chief Maxwell Hamilton while at Great Lakes, Illinois on September 8, 1945.  


Once out of the service, Max and Arletta made their home in Michigan becoming known as philanthropists, leaders, and influencers in the community.  While in Fremont Michigan Arletta worked as an industrial nurse at Gerber Products Corporation and as a school nurse for the Newaygo County Public School System. In addition to her work, Arletta served as Director of the Andrew and Matty Gerber Charitable Foundation, which later became the Social Work and Fremont Area Foundation. One of the first breast cancer survivors, Arletta organized and conducted the American Cancer Society in the county helping to lead golf tournaments and other events to raise funds. In addition, she organized a Pap Clinic for women under the American Cancer Society, served on the Board of the Michigan State American Cancer Society and the Newaygo County Board of Mental health. Deeply grounded in a personal relationship with Christ, Arletta and her husband Max were active members of Fremont United Methodist Church, serving on numerous committees. Through Fremont UMC, Arletta and Max organized and worked along with mission groups partnering with the Methodist Church in Costa Rica to aid the underprivileged. Over the course of her life Arletta and Max led numerous trips to Costa Rica.


When moving to Palm Harbor Florida Arletta became active in the Pinellas’ chapter of the American Cancer Society and Palm Harbor United Methodist Church where she remained a member until her death. Most recently Arletta was honored at an Angels Breakfast for Lady Veterans. As a servant in WWII, Arletta was the oldest veteran in attendance. She is survived by her husband Maxwell and her four children, James (Mayela) Hamilton of Costa Rica, Judith (Dan) Fenner of Maryland, Dave (Cindy) Hamilton of Ohio, and William Hamilton of Michigan. Arletta had 8 grandchildren and 15 Great grandchildren. Her parent’s Andrew and Vera Gonnerman and her brother Clarence (Mary) Gonnerman proceeded her in death. Unafraid of death, Arletta now most certainly rejoices in the presence of her Lord and Savior. We hear her singing from one of her favorite hymns, when by the gift of His infinite grace, I am accorded in heaven a place, just to be there and to look on His face, will through the ages be glory for me.


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  • Leane Blake says:

    Paul and I were so very saddened to hear of Arletta’s passing. We are grateful it was a peaceful transition for her. She was a special lady and will be missed by many. I remember fondly our time together at White Cloud Public Schools, ride sharing and conversation. Arletta and Max were like second parents to us as young adults and we will treasure those wonderful memories of time spent with them. Our heartfelt love to Max and the whole Hamilton family in this great loss.