Dear fellow Let's Talk Trains Listeners,
It is my sad duty to report that Richard Hamilton, the host and creator of The Let's Talk Trains Show, passed away late last week at the age of 60. Richard had a wonderful passion for the railroading hobby which he shared with others as a volunteer at the Poway-Midland Railroad and as a member of both the San Diego Electric Railway Association and the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum.
He created The Let's Talk Trains Show with CJ in July of 2002 as a way of extending his passion for railroading. During the show's seven year run Richard worked with Conductor CJ, AC Adam, Dispatcher Joe, Curmudgeon Stu and Conductor Nicolas to host a weekly talk show bringing trains to internet radio . The show featured a wide variety of guests and frequent contributors including Conductor Larry, The Official Caller Ken, The Amazing Chris, Awk, Monon George, Nathan Chidester, Belfast Tom and many others.
I enjoyed the privilege of working with Richard over the past three years and my deepest condolences go out to his family and friends.
Richard was born to Royce Leon Hamilton and Ernestine Owens Hamilton in Oakland, California on June 29, 1949. Ernestine left the family when Richard was 3 years old and Richard was boarded out to foster care for most of his childhood. In high school he was placed with Bob and Doris Winchell who included Richard as a member of their family. It was through their love that Richard learned and appreciated what a blessing families are.
Richard was a Vietnam Veteran and served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1970. After his military service Richard went to work for Rainbird as an Irrigation Engineer where he continued to work for the next few decades. He always kept a very positive attitude about life and was always the one who quietly supported the "team". HAM radio and all things technical were among his many interests, but his number one love was anything about trains.
Richard reunited with his younger siblings from his father's second marriage in 1983 when he was 34 years old. His siblings said that he was always forgiving and loving despite the injustices handed to him when he was too young to understand.
Richard was very involved with the San Diego Electric Railway Association (SDERA.ORG) especially with the National City Depot project having helped in obtaining the lease approval and in getting organized to run the depot. For several years he was a material participant in the staffing and training as well as serving as treasurer. At the Poway Midland Railroad he served as a volunteer Motorman operating the Vintage Trolley.
The San Diegans Club was created by Richard around 1996 and held monthly gatherings at various stations up and down the line of the Amtrak San Diegans. The Amtrak San Diegans evolved into what is now the Amtrak Pacific Surfliners and the San Diegans Club evolved into the Rail Travel Meetup Group. That group has swelled to several hundred members and continues to meet every month to this day often attracting over a dozen people to the meetings.
In 2002 Richard created Let's Talk Trains, an internet radio talk show all about trains. With Co-Host C.J. Hardman they covered everything from freight to passenger, big steam to model trains, freight business with FRA and AAR guests, to private car operators, short-line operators, photographers, and even union matters with UTU and BLE speakers. Almost ever year Richard would do a live broadcast from the annual Fullerton Railroad Days held in May of each year.
Richard and the Let's Talk Trains show were very involved in every aspect of the rail ventures in Silver Rails Country, traveling to La Plata on several occasions to provide live coverage of events including: TrainWeb.com's 10th Anniversary and the Grand Opening of TrainParty.com's new building, the Grand Opening of the APRHF exhibition of Amtrak history and the APRHF Silver Rails Event Center, and Chris Guenzler's Millionth Rail Mile and the Dedication of the APRHF Lookout Point to that achievement. Richard even originally planned to do the 7th Anniversary Show of the Let's Talk Trains Show right here in La Plata in July of 2009. Only scheduling conflicts kept that from becoming reality. It is because of Richard's dedication to the rail community and his involvement with the APRHF rail ventures in La Plata that he has earned a place in the dedication of this APRHF Silver Rails Memorial Library.
The creation of the Let's Talk Trains internet talk radio show has been a lasting achievement by Richard and can be heard to this day every Saturday at 10 AM Pacific Time at LetsTalkTrains.com.
As C.J. Hardman described Richard, he was a "Railroader's Railfan", a true-to-the-bone practical railfan who was concerned about the future of our nation's railroad infrastructure and passenger rail system.
Having just turned 60 years old, Richard died in San Diego, California, on July 31, 2009 and was laid to rest at the Bakersfield Veterans Cemetery on December 4, 2009.
Aug 03 2009 Tue:
Chris Guenzler posted the following in his rail travel report on his way to the 2009 NRHS Convention:
A notice of Sadness: The Death of Richard Hamilton
Sunday night just as I was packing, I checked Trainorders.com for anything about the trip and first spotted a post that the Lets Talk Trains web site was down. There had been no show last weekend due to Richard's illness and not a show yesterday. That post was linked to another post that was titled "A Sad Note" that told that Richard Hamilton had passed away either late Thursday night or Friday morning. That news really hit me hard. I had known Richard back in the days of the San Diegan Club which he formed and was a member until the end of that when he started Lets Talk Trains. I listened to the first show and then called in on the second show. CJ his co-host named me the Amazing Chris Guenzler and would say it with a bang. Richard just could never say it the way CJ did. Through the years I was a guest many times on his show in the three studios he used. I would take the train down to San Diego normally stay in Chula Vista at the Best Western Baymont Inn and Richard would pick me up. Richard had the best handle bar mustusche that I had ever seen and I always held him in the highest esteem. Richard also worked at Poway where we would operate the trolley and twice Richard took me on trips on the Coronado Belt Line. Richard used to just look at the pictures on my web site and only occasionally would read the full stories. Richard was always full of life and a good friend. He joined us on the Overall Million Mile Trip and because of this I had not only him now but also Harold Marshall who is also on the Million Mile DVD Set. One of my fondest Richard moments was on that trip when we did a three hour show from the lobby of the Depot Inn & Suites. With no phone lines Richard got the idea that you could e-mail us at LTT and suddenly we got all sorts of e-mails the kind we needed to do the show and the kind you did not need spam. We had a blast together that day and I thought his show would be on for years. At least we all got seven years of Lets Talk Trains and I had all those years of Richard's friendship. He is one person I will never forget! I wrote this aboard Surfliner 763 heading to LAUPT which arrived early into LAUPT.
Click here to read that full travelogue with photos.
Aug 04 2009 Wed:
Catherine Hamilton (Salt Lake City, UT) wrote:
Richard loved you guys. We miss him terribly and are happy to "meet" his friends.
We are planning a memorial service for Richard, the date and time to be determined.
Thanks for all your rememberances of him--from his family.
Aug 14 2009 Fri:
From C.J. Hardmann's Tribute to Richard Hamilton posted to the Altamont Press Discussion Board:
Re: SAD NEWS
Author: C.J. Hardman
Date: 08-14-2009 - 21:46
What a wonderful man, what a terrible loss.
I met Richard Hamilton with my husband years ago out at the Poway Midland Railroad. At the time I'd just hired out as a fr8 cndr with Santa Fe, soon to become BNSF. I had a blast co-hosting the Let's Talk Trains show with Richard. The depth of the show always held my interest--What a way to expand my horizons!
We covered everything from freight to passenger, big steam to model trains, freight business with FRA and AAR guests to private car operators, short-line operators, photographers, model train entheusiasts, and even Union matters with UTU and BLE speakers. No topic was too small (light rail, special private rail trips, etc), no issue too off bounds (union infighting, "Moon Amtrak").
When I went over to Amtrak, my hours made it impossible to continue as a co-host, although I did enjoy calling in from time to time, and listening to the show. This show was Richard's baby, and he worked so hard to make it shine!
Often I am struck by the apathy or disgust shown by working fails toward, ech, ugh, oh my, ::Foamers::
Rail fans are the appreciative icing on the cake, the thing that reminds me in the course of daily duties that my craft is humble, important, worthwhile... and among the young boys and girls, the hope that compassion for and appreciation of AND DESIRE TO PERHAPS SOMEDAY JOIN our working crafts ---(Trainmen, Enginemen, On-Board Attendents, Carmen, Deisel Mechanics, Dispatchers, Signalmen, Logistics Engineers, Maintenence of Way Folks, Station Agents, Railroad Police & Security, Trolley Motormen, Chefs and Waiters, Trainmasters, Reservation Desk Folks, Red Caps, connecting Bus Drivers and the diligent managers who apply themselves in a sincere, caring and fair manner to customer and employee alike, et. al)--- is in and of itself worthy of consideration.
Richard Hamilton was a Railroader's Railfan. A true-to-the-bone practical :::FOAMER::: who was more concerened with whether our nation had a working transit system and what was happening in freight infrastructure than what the serial number on the bolt holding down the far right corner of the toilet in the locomotive happened to be. He knew how to, and did operate full-sized antique railroad equipment, representative of our varied crafts' history and resplendent in our culture. He was kindly to friend and stranger alike. He was quick with a joke, and too fast to hide his own health problems. Richard was a goodly man who lived the life he wished in the face of difficulties many of us face, and most of us are gifted not to face. He did not hide from the light.
Folks, this man had a phenomenal sense of humor and a benevolent golden heart. It was nice to be around another "kid" when the Southpark movie came out...I don't know which of us was sicker with laughter and tears when the second song hit. As for uncles, Richard was "Uncle Richard" to our child and I'm certain even more so the nieces and nephews of his family. We truely enjoyed outings to Dana point with Richard, his sister and niece. Wonderful people, all!
Richard was a Vietnam Veteran. Richard was a Son. Richard was a Brother. Richard was an Uncle. Richard was a Husband (to someone else, really I wouldn't be so lucky ;) )Richard was a friend, buddy, pal. Richard was the kindly voice reminding you to keep your hands and feet inside the Trolley or Coach Car at Poway Midland Railway. Richard was the Motorman. Richard was the founder of the "LET'S TALK TRAINS SHOW". Richard was the fellow with the waxed moustache who always had a kind word for everyone.
That is the Richard Hamilton I know. That is the Richard Hamilton who lives in my heart and mind.
"CJ" Hardman :)
Aug 15 2009 Sat:
Originally Richard was planning on having the July 11, 2009, 7th Anniversary Let's Talk Trains Show at the APRHF Silver Rails Event Center near the Depot Inn & Suites in the heart of Silver Rails Country in La Plata, Missouri. There were some discussions and explorations of the feasibility of this. However, July is one of the busiest months at the event center and hotel with every weekend already having been booked with weddings. Thus the idea for doing an anniversary show in La Plata was postponed for a future year when the facilities could be booked in advance.
Sep 12 2009 Sat:
The staff and friends of TrainWeb.com and its affiliates morn the loss of Richard Hamilton. Richard was a significant inspiration to the TrainWeb ventures almost since the founding of TrainWeb in 1996 in Fullerton, California. Richard had also been very involved and a significant inspiration to the APRHF Silver Rails projects in La Plata, Missouri, ever since the start of those efforts in 2006. Richard continued to be greatly involved in and a supporter of the APRHF Silver Rails efforts right up to his death in 2009.
Richard started the San Diegan Club in the mid-1990s. Years later this club was reformed as the Southern California Train Travel Meetup Group which meets monthly in Downtown Fullerton. Over the years this group that was originally created by Richard has grown to a few hundred members with more than a dozen people attending many of the monthly meetings to discuss their rail travel experiences and plans.
Richard's Let's Talk Trains provided live internet radio coverage of many milestone's including TrainWeb's 10th Anniversary and the Grand Opening of the new TrainWeb building in La Plata, Missouri, in 2006, Chris Guenzler's Millionth Rail Travel Mile, the Grand Opening of both the Exhibition of Amtrak History and the Silver Rails Event Center. Richard also provided live coverage of Fullerton Railroad Days for many years as well as coverage and discussion of many significant railroad events over the last few years.
TrainWeb.com, TrainParty.com and the Depot Inn & Suites were proud to be sponsors of Richard's Let's Talk Trains Internet Talk Radio Show and to support the valuable service that Richard provided to the train enthusiast community. Richard's presence and efforts will be sorely missed.
Below photos were consolidated from the TrainWeb archives.
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