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Rectory Alumni Awards

2022 Distinguished Service Award: Peter '67 and Nathaniel '98 Hamilton
Presented by Fred Williams, Head of School

Alumnus, Trustee, Philanthropist: Generations of Service

Like father, like son.  That is the saying that immediately comes to mind when considering Peter, the father, and Nat, the son, Hamilton.  They have much in common, particularly when it comes to Rectory School, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to acknowledge this twosome this year.

Their similarities, for our purposes tonight, begin with them both having attended Rectory School—two of a total of four members of the Hamilton family to do so.  Peter was a member of the Class of ‘67, and as I perused his student file, the top document summed up all I needed to know.  This was Mr. Howe’s secondary school recommendation, which, among other accolades, stated that “Pete, as regards to behavior and cooperation on the corridor, has done an excellent job all year long.  His room neatness as well as his personal and social neatness have been excellent.  He is a fine fellow.” 

Nat, ‘98, and brother Charlie, followed Peter and his brother Matt, as the next generation of Hamiltons to attend our school.  In addition to his academic achievements, Nat’s transcript shows a pattern of “A” conduct grades, an indicator of good things to come.  His secondary school recommendation notes that “Nat is a leader in our community as a proctor and head waiter.  Nat is a quiet, unassuming young man whose pleasant demeanor and gentle manner put everyone around him at ease.”  Like father, like son.

Years after his graduation and prior to Nat’s enrollment, Rectory reached out to Peter asking if he would be interested in serving on Rectory’s board of trustees.  For the past nineteen years in my role as head of school, I see on a regular basis the critical role board members play in the life of the school.  They are asked to commit their time, their expertise, their perspective, their funds, and in return, they get a chair, a painting, or some other symbol for their service.  I don’t share this to diminish the acknowledgement of appreciation bestowed upon the trustee, but this is not a 50/50 relationship.  The board member gives, and the school gets.

Upon joining the board, Peter gave immediately as his skill set garnered him important positions on the three critical and, in many ways, interconnected committees:  the Facilities Planning and Maintenance Committee, where he served as Chair; the Development and Capital Campaign Committee; and the Committee on Endowment.

Rectory’s campus has experienced periods of great transformation across its first hundred years.  One of those periods occurred under Peter’s watch.  While he served as Chair of Facilities, Rectory undertook an ambitious campus development plan that included the construction of the new Dining Hall, a masterfully designed space conceived by the architect Tai Soo Kim, and the construction of Collins Art Barn, a space that continues to inspire great creativity among our students. These years also saw improvements made to Brittain House, the construction of the maintenance building, and the addition of Hamilton Dormitory.  During his tenure, Peter also oversaw the purchase of two key properties: Glen Lea Cottage and Murphy House.  One might hold, though, that the most important campus addition during Peter’s tenure was the construction of Langford Field, the school baseball field that bears the name of an alumnus who passed away in an accident shortly after his graduation from Rectory.

All this work does not occur for free, nor can it be funded through tuition.  These improvements exist because in addition to helping plan and execute these projects, Peter was instrumental in soliciting the funding that made them possible.  And he led with his own giving, which set an example for others to follow. Were it not for Peter’s generosity and leadership, our students would not be enjoying the experience they have today.

Like father, like son.  Eleven years after Peter retired from the board, I approached Nat and asked if he, too, would return to Rectory to add to the Hamilton legacy on campus.  Guess what two committees we asked him to join? Facilities and development.  While Nat did just miss a second round of improvements to Brittain House, he, like his father, has helped the School make great progress on our current, equally expansive master plan.  

With a full renovation of the iconic Memorial Dormitory, the construction of John and Millie Green Hall, the addition of the Seaward Pavillion, the addition of four faculty dwellings, and the just commenced work on our new Centennial Hall, Nat may be closing in on his father’s footsteps when it comes to square feet of construction.  And you can add to this the renovations that resulted in the Wolf Den Student Center and the improvements made to the Bigelow Academic Building.

As in his father’s day, these projects cannot be funded through operating expenses and should not rely heavily on loans.  Rectory’s goals are always ambitious, but fortunately, with Hamilton family involvement, they have proven to be achievable. In this case, Nat’s participation on our development committee has put Rectory within reach of our most ambitious fundraising effort ever—the $40 million Campaign for a Century.

Nat, Peter, and the Hamilton family have done great things for Rectory, but it would be irresponsible to suggest their interest in the greater good is solely focused on our school.  In fact, the Hamilton knack for doing good extends well beyond our campus.  Closer to their Philadelphia home, the Hamiltons have provided incredible amounts of invaluable assistance to academic and vocational programs designed to promote meaningful careers and enriched lives for those in need.
So for their service and their support, to Rectory and others, and in hopes a third generation will continue the tradition, it is an honor to bestow this distinguished service award to Peter and Nat Hamilton.

  • 2022
  • Distinguished Service