Businessman Brent Hamilton, Detroit native, dies

Brent Cornell Hamilton was the type of person who mentored young people, then watched as they grew and succeeded, partly as a result of life lessons he imparted to them.

David Neal, who was like a son to Mr. Hamilton and called him "Pops," was among those who were guided by Mr. Hamilton.

"He took a 13-year-old kid that he saw was a good kid but was heading down the wrong path. He tried to put me on the right path with a little resistance," said Neal, now a Jacksonville, Florida, business analyst.

"For 35 years, we just built a relationship and he helped me into the person I am today. I'm not sure I would have made if he hadn't befriended me and stepped in."

Mr. Hamilton died of cancer Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in Florida. He was 67.

He was the owner of fire sprinkler design companies for more than 40 years. Mr. Hamilton lived in Orange Park, Florida.

"He was respected professionally," said Mr. Hamilton's cousin, Tobi Burden, who noted that Mr. Hamilton loved to tag along with her like a little brother. "He was a commercial sprinkler designer and engineer. He drew the plans for where sprinklers would be placed in major buildings and warehouses." 

Mr. Hamilton, who grew up in northwest Detroit, attended Cass Tech High School. He left Detroit in the 1970s, earned his GED and eventually settled in the Jacksonville area. Mr. Hamilton was known for his close family ties and being a family historian, said his cousin, Kirk Hamilton, of West Bloomfield Township.

"When he visited out of town, he was going to visit as much family during that (visit)," said Kirk Hamilton. "He was kind of a family historian, and he would learn as much as he could about the family. He took mental notes" during the visits about the family history.

Mr. Hamilton also was a car buff and was known for his diverse musical tastes.

While Mr. Hamilton had a reputation as being financially astute and a coupon-clipper, he still "spent his money well" on things that brought him joy such as travel.

Preceded in death by his father, Marvin Hamilton, survivors include Mr. Hamilton's mother, Marion Hamilton; a daughter, Erica Jones, of Berkeley, Illinois; two granddaughters, Karissa and Zaria Jones, also of Berkeley; his godson Ross Hamilton of Sterling Heights; and his best friend, Sonkyu Yi of Middleburg, Florida.

Visitation and funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday  at J.H. Churchill Funeral Home, 201 S. Third Street, Murray, Kentucky.

Burial will be in Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Almo, Kentucky.