2014 Citizen of the West: Fred Hamilton
The National Western Stock Show has named Frederic C. Hamilton the 2014 Citizen of the West, an award that recognizes those who embody the spirit and determination of the Western pioneer and perpetuate the West’s agricultural heritage and ideals. A committee of community leaders selects the recipients.
Hamilton is a pioneer in the oil and gas business, philanthropist and advocate for the arts. He will receive the prestigious award at a dinner on Jan. 13, 2014, at the National Western Events Center. Proceeds from the event support 74 scholarships awarded annually by the National Western Scholarship Trust.
According to Governor John Hickenlooper, “Fred Hamilton is exactly the type of person for whom this award was created. He personifies so much of what is great about the West, particularly as a pioneer in the energy industry and benefactor for the arts.”
Hamilton’s career began in Texas, where he learned the oil business from the ground up as a roughneck and roustabout. With his brother, Ferris, he founded Hamilton Brothers Drilling Company with a $5,000 loan from their mother.
The company that in later years was known as Hamilton Brothers Oil Company and Hamilton Oil Corporation achieved some notable milestones. In the early 1960s, Hamilton Brothers discovered the Edson Field, the third-largest gas field ever found in Canada. The company also designed, built and used the first drilling rig transportable by helicopter, as well as the first floating production system in the world. In the early 1970s, it was the first company to find and produce oil in the North Sea off Britain. It later drilled the first wells in the Barents Sea off Russia and the East China Sea.
Today, Hamilton’s activities include significant investments in the oil and gas industry, venture capital and private equity, and mortgage lending. He is also widely known for his philanthropic and arts activities. “Fred Hamilton is one of the few and unique individuals who live the true values of theWest, who roll up their sleeves, make personal sacrifice, and make things happen to benefit our community and our quality of life,” said Pete Coors, 2011 Citizen of the West.
Hamilton’s name is synonymous with the Denver Art Museum, which he has supported for 30 years and been chairman of for 20 years. He led the museum’s first endowment campaign, which raised more than $100 million. The Daniel Liebeskind-designed addition to the museum was named the Frederic C. Hamilton Building in his honor. He has also been a major contributor with buildings and facilities at the Graland Country Day School, the Boy Scouts and the University of Denver.
At the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Hamilton endowed a chair in Endocrinology and has provided significant support for research programs in macular degeneration and skin cancer. He also has been a major donor to Children’s Hospital Colorado and has endowed three chairs in research and clinical scholars at New York Presbyterian Cornell Hospital.
Hamilton has been involved in corporate and cultural governance boards throughout his career. He is a member of the Trustees Council of the National Gallery of Art, and alumni member of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Directors, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and president of the Graland Country Day School Foundation Board. He was chairman of the Tejas Gas Corporation and was a director of a variety of organizations, including BHP Petroleum, Celanese Corporation, First National Bancorporation, ITT and United Banks of Colorado. He is on the National Petroleum Council and is a director of the American Petroleum Institute.
Hamilton has lived in Denver for more than 50 years. He and his wife, Jane, have four children and 10 grandchildren.