Ruth Hamilton

Poet, actor, journalist, sparkling wit

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Ruth Hulburt Hamilton died in Evanston on June 26, 2018. Born in Kirksville, Missouri in 1921, she lived most of her life as a devoted Oak Parker. When she graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High, she decided to study acting. In her year at the Goodman School of Drama she was cast as a thorn bush in Sleeping Beauty. The director criticized her in rehearsal, saying she was not brambling properly. She then attended Pomona College and later graduated with a degree in English Literature from Rosary College (now Dominican University) in River Forest. 

In 1943 she married Allen Beye Hamilton. During her long and happy marriage, she wrote poems, several of which were published in the Ladies Home Journal. Her poem, "Song for a Fifth Child," has been cherished through the decades by generations of mothers. 

In addition to raising five children, she had many vocations, acting in community-theater productions, working at Oak Park High, and writing profiles of actors that appeared in the Chicago Daily News and many others newspapers. Her pieces had her signature sparkle, wit, and generosity. She wrote such a charming letter to Lynne Fontanne that the actress, who with her husband Alfred Lunt had long since stopped giving interviews, granted her an audience.

Ruth spent the last 10 years of her life at the Presbyterian Home in Evanston. Among her many gifts was her great capacity for happiness, a gift that touched everyone she met. She will be remembered particularly for her profound joy by her friends; relations; her children Duncan, Bruce, Jeremy, and Jane; her son-in-law Bob Willard; and her grandchildren Allen and Duncan Riddell, and Ben and Hannah Willard. Her daughter Sarah and her husband predeceased her. 

In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Employee Fund, The Geneva Foundation of Presbyterian Homes, or The Songs by Heart Foundation. Services were held on June 29 at the Elliot Chapel on the Presbyterian Home campus. 

Song for a Fifth Child 

Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!

Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,

Hang out the washing and butter the bread,

Sew on a button and make up a bed.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!


Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue

(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).

Dishes are waiting and bills are past due

(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew

And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo

But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.

Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?

(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)


Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,

But children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.

I'm rocking my baby. Babies don't keep.

Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

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