Ronald Allen Hamilton

November 9, 1950April 19, 2023
Obituary of Ronald Allen Hamilton
Ronald Allen Hamilton was born in South Bend, Indiana on November 9, 1950. His parents, Melvin Hamilton and Leota Marie Hamilton, were perfect family planners. Marta Sue was born exactly two years, four months, and three days after Ron. Terrill Lee came along precisely two years, four months, and three days after Marta Sue. Ron remembers kneeling by his bed at a young age acknowledging Jesus as God’s Son who had died on the cross in payment for his sins, asking Jesus to forgive those sins, and accepting Jesus into his heart to save him. Salvation and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ are the means by which one can live a life in heaven forever. This is the gospel in full, the gospel to which Ron dedicated his life. Ronnie, as his friends and family called him, was an active young boy who loved to tease and be funny. Although loving and respectful to his parents at home, his quick wit got him into trouble a time or two at school. Melvin, Ron’s dad, was of gentle disposition and an electrician by trade. Ronnie spent his summers working alongside his dad in the hot sun, digging trenches for the electrical conduit. He acquired a bleached blonde head of hair and a dark tan, earning himself the title, “soil engineer.” Ron’s mom, Leota, stayed at home managing Melvin’s books, running a tight family budget, and ensuring the children received musical training. When Ronnie was 11, Marty 9, and Terry 7, Leota hired a pianist to teach the children trios arranged by Harold DeCou. Mom Hamilton was inspired to make a professional recording of her children. Terry sang the melody, Marty the alto, and Ronnie the tenor. Leota was of strong character and, by example, taught her children to demonstrate character as well. Travel time in the car was not wasted. The family would sing gospel songs whenever they traveled, harmonizing in three parts. Mom Hamilton is the reason each child became a proficient musician—Ronnie as a composer, arranger, singer, guitarist, pianist, trombonist, and music pastor; Marty as a singer, high school choir director, and English teacher; Terry as a singer, music pastor, and pastor. In addition, Ronnie was a high school track star, gymnast, swimmer, and bicyclist. One summer in high school, Ron rode his bike across the entire United States with the Wandering Wheels organization. Another summer, he participated again in a Wandering Wheels excursion, riding his bike around the Great Lakes in Michigan. In 1969, Ronnie (now Ron) came to Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. He auditioned and was accepted into Dr. Frank Garlock’s vesper choir. This same year Ron saw Dr. Garlock’s daughter, Shelly, running across the BJU campus in her cheerleading outfit. Not long after, Shelly spotted Ron in her dad’s vesper choir. It was love at first sight for both of them. The rest is history. Ron and Shelly dated for six short years and tied the knot on May 31, 1975. They both did undergraduate and graduate work in music and have made beautiful music together ever since. Ron’s first sacred music compositions were written for his master’s degree program under the tutelage of Dr. Dwight Gustafson. Instead of writing a capstone paper, Ron wrote a trilogy of songs on the cross: “It Is Finished,” “Come to the Cross,” and “The Blood of Jesus.” Dr. Gustafson later confided to one of our friends, “Ron’s three songs on the cross were some of the finest compositions ever written at Bob Jones University.” In 1978, the couple’s life took a sharp turn—not of their own making but of God’s. At a routine eye exam, an ophthalmologist discovered melanoma cancer in Ron’s left eye. Surgery followed to remove the eye. Ron, being the adventure-driven, fun-loving individual that he was, opted to wear a leather eye patch permanently. This earned him the title Patch the Pirate from children everywhere. This seeming tragedy became the greatest ministry blessing of Ron and Shelly’s lives. Following Ron’s eye surgery, he composed his most loved song, “Rejoice in the Lord,” compiled from Scripture sent to him on hundreds of cards. The song is mainly based on two passages. First is Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.” The second is Job 23:10, “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Ron and Shelly Hamilton have owned and managed Majesty Music, a sacred music publishing company, since 1980. Ron has traveled across the country giving sacred music concerts, preached God’s Word at multiple conferences and church services, directed the music at The Wilds Christian Camp for 10 years, taught music at BJU and directed the BJA choir for three years, produced and written children’s audio story/adventure recordings for 40+ years, created the Patch the Pirate church choir clubs, has written and arranged 40 Christmas cantatas and church choral books, produced two hymnals, six vocal solo recordings, eight orchestra recordings, directed the music program at Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville, South Carolina for 21 years, and has raised five beautiful, sweet, musically-talented children who were the love of his life. Jonathan, Tara, Alyssa, Megan, and Jason were all involved in the Hamilton’s music ministries and became proficient musicians themselves. Besides the Lord Jesus Christ whom they serve, Ron and Shelly’s five children are their crowning jewels. God has blessed, and only God. The five children have loved and served God with their talents. Ron and Shelly’s oldest, Jonathan Campbell Hamilton, became sick with schizophrenia when he was 18 and took his life when he was 34. This tragedy has been the family’s most overwhelming grief. The tragedy did not overtake them but caused them to draw closer to God and confirmed in their hearts that God is always, only good. During Ron’s lifetime, God gave him a 40-year window to write beautiful sacred songs for both adults and children. Writing both the text and the music is a unique gift given to very few. Ron’s melodies are simple, yet memorable. His lyrics are soul stirring, heartwarming, and easily applicable. In 1980, Ron with his father-in-law Frank Garlock wrote songs for the first Patch the Pirate album, “Sing Along with Patch.” At the last minute, Ron added a simple story line between the songs which included himself as Patch the Pirate, his wife Shelly as Sissy Seagull, Ron as Wally Whale, Ron as Paul E. Parrot, a sailor named Davey Jones, and three oysters—Ozzie, Oozie, and Ornery. Since then, one Patch adventure has been produced each year, totaling 43 adventures to date. The adventure storylines have grown in length and complexity and always include fun characters. Ron had the gift of perfectly combining humor with character lessons. The most important goal was to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2010, when Ron was just 60 years old, he started showing early signs of dementia. Several years later, he was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Around 2015, Ron’s dementia was formally diagnosed as frontotemporal dementia. FTD, as it is called, affects the frontal lobes of the brain which control language and behavior. After 2017, Ron’s traveling ministry ended. The last song he wrote was “It’s All About Me” which is on the “Operation Arctic” Patch adventure album. On July 15, 2021, Ron’s dementia took him to an assisted living facility for six months. Shelly was able to bring him home December 15 of the same year. With the help of hospice and multiple talented caregivers, Ron was able to stay at home. Ron and Shelly, with their daughter Alyssa, were invited in July of 2022, to transfer to Navarre, Florida to live with Shelly’s sister Gina and her husband David Greene. The purpose was for Shelly to have help and support in caring for Ron. Because of his declining condition with dementia, Ron’s health took a downward turn in April of 2023. Evangelist and friend, Tom Williams, who is now 88 years old, prayed with Ron and Shelly over the phone shortly before Ron passed, “Dear Lord, this old ship is about ready to dock.” Ron passed away quietly on Wednesday, April 19, 2023 surrounded by his family. The Patch the Pirate albums have sold over two million copies. The adventures are featured on over 600 radio stations, Spotify, YouTube, and other digital outlets. To date, over a million streams of Patch are reported every month. To the glory of God, countless children have come to know Christ because of the Patch outreach. Ron’s Christmas cantatas have reached thousands with the gospel of Christ. After his first cantata was presented by churches all over America, Majesty Music received reports of over 600 salvations. Some of the most meaningful comments to his family have been, “Patch music has become the soundtrack of my life.” And, “Ron’s life has validated his music.” Friend, Evangelist Ben Everson said, “Patch taught several generations how to live for Christ. Now Patch has taught us how to die in Christ.” About five years ago, Ron received disheartening news at his doctor appointment. As they drove away, Shelly tried to encourage him by saying, “Do you realize how many people you have blessed with your music, Ron?” Not saying much at this stage of his dementia, Ron replied, “I’d like to think God did it.” This is Ron’s story. We’re sticking to it. A visitation for Ron will be held Friday, April 28, 2023 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Mackey Funerals and Cremations at Century Drive, 311 Century Dr, Greenville, South Carolina 29607. A Celebration of Life will take place Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM at Bob Jones University in the Founder's Memorial Amphitorium, 1700 Wade Hampton Blvd, Greenville, SC 29614 with a committal service to follow at Woodlawn Memorial Park, 1 Pine Knoll Drive, Greenville, South Carolina 29609. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Hope for the Home 733 Wade Hampton Blvd. Greenville, SC 29609 or by clicking Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Hamilton family.

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Friday, April 28, 2023


Saturday, April 29, 2023

A Celebration of Life