Gene E. Hamaker, editor of Buffalo
Tales, died at his home in Kearney on October 19, 1984. I
to share with you some of my thoughts and impressions of this
Gene E. Hamaker,
Editor of Buffalo Tales,
It was my privilege to know Dr. Hamaker for over three decades. Yet few of us knew this versatile, complex, cultured gentleman who dearly loved classical music, this very kind decent human being, this very private person. Here was a man who possessed the skills necessary for life in the ranch country of northern Nebraska where he spent the early years of his life. He was skilled as a hay stacker in the years before machines negated the need for such skills. Perhaps some students who mispronounced his name spoke more truth than they knew when they called him "Mr. Haymaker." He was at home in the halls of learning, as a student, as a professor, as a researcher and as a scholar. He was also at home on the ranch in Cherry County. From 1946 to 1949 he was a skilled member of the Eighty-Second Airborne Division even though he said he never enjoyed jumping out of a plane.
When he became aware of the nature of the illness from which he was suffering he busied himself with making arrangements so that students and researchers would have access to his own extensive collection of books, journals and research material. His generous contributions to the College library and to the Historical Society will long be appreciated by students, researchers and writers.
Gene demonstrated almost unbelievable
courage and fortitude during the last months of his life. Turning aside
nearly all offers of assistance he did make two requests "don't feel
for me" and "don't bury me while I'm still alive." His incredible
to duty was demonstrated by the fact that he was in his office at the
less than 48 hours before his death. We are grateful for his
to the Society and to the Buffalo
Tales. We miss his friendship
and professional counsel.
Professor Hamaker earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1951 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1958.
He came to Kearney State College in 1969 after a year as Associate Professor of History at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas. Earlier he had held a five year Associate Professorship at the University of Hawaii, spent four years teaching at Idaho State University and was chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, from 1956 to 1958. He was also an instructor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln Extension Division. Love and concern for his family prompted Gene to leave a position at the University of Hawaii, return to the mainland and finally select Kearney State College as the place to spend the rest of his academic life. Our location placing him between those members of his family living in the Denver, Colorado area and those in Cherry county was attractive to him. Once at Kearney State he saw the need for the college to publish a scholarly journal. The result was the Platte Valley Review of which he was the founder and first editor. A perfectionist, he contributed much energy and guidance to making it a high quality publication.
His memberships included the Midwest Archives Center, Popular Culture Association, Rocky Mountain Social Sciences Association, Nebraska State Historical Society, Western Social Science Foundation, Organization of American Historians, National History Association, the Iowa History Department, The South Dakota Historical Society, and was a member of the executive committee of the Nebraska State History Records Board.
His areas of teaching expertise included
Russian history, East Asia, the philosophy of history, and the late
century United States. Professor Hamaker authored two books, Irrigation
Pioneers and Brighton,
Colorado. He also contributed to chapters
in another book, Public Power in
Nebraska. His articles and book
reviews were published in a number of journals including Buffalo
The Platte Valley Review, Educational Perspectives, Nebraska History, and
the Journal of Popular Culture.
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