Louise W. Hamilton, MS, RD, president of the American Dietetic Association from 1978 to 1979, passed away on June 3, 2003 at Foxdale Village in State College, PA.
Louise was born in Hamilton, OH, a town where her great-grandparents settled. Her dream career was to be a physicist, but a series of education decisions brought her to the Home Economics Department at Iowa State College, where she completed her BS degree in 1930. Her early career combined her interest in physics with home economics. She held positions researching and demonstrating new equipment at Cleveland Gas Association and General Electric. Her ongoing interest in nutrition education brought her to the Pennsylvania State University, where she earned a Master of Science degree.
The remainder of her professional career was centered in the Cooperative Extension Service, College of Agriculture of the Pennsylvania State University. In addition, she was a Professor of Food and Nutrition Extension in the Food Science Department. She retired in 1987 as professor emeritus.
During her career, she helped start the Pennsylvania Expanded Foods and Nutrition Education Program. She co-authored “Home Canning—The Last Word,” and produced a monthly newsletter, “Penny’s Menu for a Day,” which celebrated its 27th year when she retired.
Louise held leadership positions in the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association, serving on numerous committees and as a delegate and president. In ADA, she served as House of Delegates Area Council Representative, as Speaker, and as a Coordinating Cabinet member before serving as the 53rd President. One of her presidential activities was to attend the second meeting of the new ADA affiliate, the American European Dietetic Association (AODA today). Helen Bechtold, RD, recalls the visit: “Louise presented the AEDA Board of Directors with a check for $1,000 to support our efforts. We were thrilled that she came to the meeting in London. She always supported international work throughout her career.”
Not only did Louise champion her passion of good nutrition in her job, but she also brought it to her community. She was instrumental in establishing the Meals-on-Wheels program in State College, PA, serving on its board for close to 30 years. She also served on the Board of Directors of the State College Presbyterian Church. One of her contributions was to donate an elevator to the Church so everyone could participate in the services. The Pennsylvania Public Health Association honored her with their Special Award, the highest recognition given by the organization.
In reviewing her career, Louise’s enthusiasm for working with young dietitians is apparent. She was advisor to student dietetics associations and was known for creating an atmosphere that allowed for candid and open debate and dialogue. Marian B. Mathur, RD, a friend from graduate school, said, “Louise had a wide variety of interests—Meals on Wheels, her church, gardening, travel, DAR, genealogy, family, and friends—to which she brought the same enthusiasm and gave generously of her time and talents. She was an “encourager” of young people both in the profession and in her immediate and extended family of friends.”
Louise will be remembered as a professional who always spoke to the issues at hand. Her legacy is a passion for nutrition education for the public and delivering it to all parts of society. In her final thoughts as president, she said, “As society’s expectations of the profession change, new courses of action need to be charted by its leaders” (
- Hamilton L.
President’s Message, Annual Report and Proceedings, 1979. American Dietetic Association, Chicago, IL1979
She exemplified this message and leaves the challenge for today’s leaders to continue. Memorial contributions may be made to State College Meals on Wheels, 205 S. Garner St., State College, PA 16801.
- President’s Message, Annual Report and Proceedings, 1979. American Dietetic Association, Chicago, IL1979
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