Hamilton, John T. (1916-2000)

By Dennis Pettibone


Dennis Pettibone, Ph.D. (University of California, Riverside), is professor emeritus of history at Southern Adventist University. He and his first wife, Carol Jean Nelson Pettibone (now deceased) have two grown daughters. He is now married to the former Rebecca Aufderhar. His published writings include A Century of Challenge: the Story of Southern College and the second half of His Story in Our Time.

First Published: May 9, 2023

John T. Hamilton is best remembered as the director of elite traveling choral groups. Some of the songs performed by these groups were “September Song,” “Inchworm,” and “Why Study?”1 He spent most of his career of 33 years2 on the faculty of La Sierra College and, after La Sierra’s merger with Loma Linda University (LLU), the La Sierra campus of LLU.3

Hamilton was born June 28, 19154 to Harry H. and Mary Hamilton.5 He was named after his grandfather,6 but the younger John Tweed Hamilton chose to go by “John T. Hamilton.”7

Hamilton graduated from Washington Missionary College with a history degree in 1937 and obtained a bachelor of music degree from Northwestern University in 1941.8 He married Arlene Winsor in 1941.9 That year he also began teaching at Walla Walla College,10 where he remained for five years.11

Hamilton joined the music faculty of Emanuel Missionary College in 194612 as a voice teacher and choir director.13 The following year he joined the music faculty of La Sierra College.14 He was the public relations director of La Sierra College and then of the La Sierra campus of Loma Linda University from 196215 to 1970.16

Hamilton continued leading choral groups during the years he was public relations director. During that time he also established Adventist Colleges Abroad,17 an organization which enabled American students to spend a year studying in Austria, France, or Germany.18 He served as director of the program for 14 years. He also led European tours.19 After his time as public relations director was over, he continued serving on La Sierra’s music faculty.20

Hamilton retired in 1980 and was designated Emeritus Professor of music in 1982.21 He passed away on November 3, 2000. John T. Hamilton was survived by one son, John H. Hamilton.22


Hamilton, John T. “Study-Abroad Program Coordinated by College.” ARH, December 21, 1967.

“Life Stories.” Andrews University Focus, Winter 2001.

Pettibone, Dennis. “Harry H. Hamilton (1878-1965).” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, September 9, 2020. Accessed May 9, 2023. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C9EY&highlight=Hamilton,|Harry|H.

Schultz, Dan. Adventist Musicians Biographical Resource. Walla Walla International Adventists Musicians Association, 2014.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://adventistyearbook.org/.


  1. Author’s personal knowledge.

  2. “Life Stories,” Andrews University Focus, Winter 2001, 26.

  3. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1947), 238; (1980), 263.

  4. “Life Stories.”

  5. Dennis Pettibone, “Harry H. Hamilton (1878-1965),” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, September 9, 2020, accessed May 9, 2023, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C9EY&highlight=Hamilton,|Harry|H.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Author’s personal knowledge.

  8. Dan Schultz, Adventist Musicians Biographical Resource (Walla Walla International Adventists Musicians Association, 2014), 306.

  9. “Life Stories.”

  10. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1942), 236.

  11. Shultz, 306.

  12. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1947), 238.

  13. “Life Stories.”

  14. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1948), 251.

  15. Ibid. (1962), 257.

  16. Ibid. (1970), 336.

  17. Shultz, 306-307.

  18. John T. Hamilton, “Study-Abroad Program Coordinated by College,” ARH, December 21, 1967, 23-24.

  19. Shultz, 307.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1971), 345.

  21. Shultz, 306-307.

  22. “Life Stories.”


Pettibone, Dennis. "Hamilton, John T. (1916-2000)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 09, 2023. Accessed July 22, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C9EZ.

Pettibone, Dennis. "Hamilton, John T. (1916-2000)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 09, 2023. Date of access July 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C9EZ.

Pettibone, Dennis (2023, May 09). Hamilton, John T. (1916-2000). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved July 22, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=C9EZ.