HAMILTON – A veteran turned business owner and his wife, along with the man who lost his life to April 13’s tornado, were recognized July 20 during Hamilton Appreciation Day.
John T. and Eva Nell (Holloway) Roberts were chosen as this year’s Hamilton Outstanding Citizens of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to live in this community for so long. Both of our children went to Hamilton and had some of the same teachers I did,” Eva Nell said.
She went to school at Hamilton all the way up until her senior year, when she transferred to Aberdeen. Eva Nell met John, who served in U.S. Army, in November 1957, and they got married Feb. 12, 1958 at Fort. Riley, Kansas.
He was soon deployed to fight in the Korean War and later in Vietnam. After retiring from the military and working as a conservationist, the couple eventually settling in Hamilton in the early 1970s. He ran a full-service Chevron station from 1971 to 1983 and another one in Aberdeen in 1985, while she worked at several places such as South Monroe Garment, Country Squire and Senter’s Drug Store.
“I was one of the first to donate to the Hamilton Fire Department and for Hamilton school’s air conditioning. I helped build the Hamilton Sports Association’s ball field and helped take care of it for 14 years,” he said, adding he served for six years on an advisory committee for Tronox.
“It’s a great honor [to be citizens of the year]. We appreciation the committee for choosing us,” he said.
Additionally, the late Roy Ratliff was honored through a posthumous award. The 95-year-old lost his life after a tree fell on his residence alongside Center Hill Road.
Ratliff’s nephew, Dean Honeycutt, described him as a dedicated member of Center Hill Baptist Church, who taught Sunday school.
“He was a very kind-hearted guy. He was willing to help in any way he could. Up until two years ago, he planted a big garden for everyone in the community,” Dean said. “He was a well-liked gentleman who had a lot of good friends. He lived a good life.”
Ratliff served in both World War II and the Korean War. He settled in Hamilton after working 19 years for a company in Wisconsin that designed cabinets for Sears. He was the last of his siblings to pass away.
“Although he lived a long and Godly life, it was a tragedy to lose him t he way we did,” Dean said. “I want to give a heart-filled thank you to the Hamilton community and Hamilton Appreciation Day committee for choosing Uncle Gene for the outstanding posthumous award.”