The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Daughter of UI alum shares his legacy and experiences following World War II

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Shiva
Judy Hamilton Crockett presents on the life of her father, Major Clarence E. Hamilton, in the Boyd Law Building on Thursday, March 29, 2018. Major Hamilton was an Iowa Law student, and graduated in 1921. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

The legacy of a UI College of Law alum was celebrated during a Thursday afternoon speech at the Boyd Law Building.

Judy Hamilton Crockett, a UI graduate, spoke about the life of her father, Major Clarence E. Hamilton, especially his experiences following World War II in Nuremberg, Germany.

Accompanied by a PowerPoint slideshow of her father, Crockett gave a description of the career of the Winterset, Iowa native. Hamilton entered law school at the UI but left to fight in France during World War I. He was awarded the Croix de guerre for heroism for driving wounded soldiers to hospitals in the thick of combat.

Upon the war’s completion, Hamilton returned to the UI, married and had a son, then became the assistant to the Attorney General for the state of Iowa. He and his wife then had three daughters, with Crockett being the youngest.

Crockett said her father re-enlisted with the military at the age of 50 in 1943 because her brother was flying combat missions.

She shared an anecdote about her father telling her not to cry when he left, because he knew her mother and sisters would. Another anecdote involved a bedtime story her father wrote for her, in which he stressed the importance of thinking about others more than being preoccupied with yourself.

“I wanted [the audience] to know what he did for his country, his unselfish patriotism at the age of fifty, that he would leave his family and his business and go to fight a war in such a humble way,” Crockett said.

When Hamilton was sent to Nuremberg, he was in charge of having Allied forces take control of the court system, preserve judicial records, and gather reports on political prisoners.

“He wrote, ‘now that the war is over, I wish to hell I was home,’ but he didn’t come home for another eleven months,” Crockett said.

After he returned to Iowa, Hamilton returned to law practice. One of his most prominent cases, which attracted global media attention, was the trial of UI student Robert Bednasek.

Bednasek was accused of killing his girlfriend in late 1949, but in the 1950 trial, with Hamilton acting as his attorney, he was found innocent. Hamilton didn’t charge the family for legal fees, exemplifying his mantra of helping others.

Brian Farrell, the Associate Director for the UI Center for Human Rights and a professor at the College of Law, said the event was a collaboration between with those two organizations and the Johnson County Bar Association.

“It’s fantastic to be able to hear such personal stories about an alum, somebody who is part of the history of the community,” Farrell said. “And for law students, to hear those personal reflections on a lawyer…was meaningful as well.”

Jay Honohan was one of a few attendees who expressed their fondness about Hamilton to his daughter. He’d been hired by the judge after graduating from the UI in 1960.

“I enjoyed [the speech] very much. A great deal of it…I knew about Nuremberg, I knew about the Bednasek case…but I enjoyed it because there was a lot I did not know,” he said.

Honohan told the audience a story about Hamilton, and then addressed Crockett directly, saying, “That was your dad. He was a determined guy and a great judge.”





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