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Fish and Wildlife Director Sam Hamilton dies unexpectedly

By Ed O'Keefe

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam D. Hamilton died unexpectedly on Saturday during a ski trip in Colorado.

Sam Hamilton
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Sam D. Hamilton (Courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Hamilton experienced chest pains during an afternoon run at the Keystone Ski Resort and the local coroner said his death was consistent with an underlying heart-related medical issue, according to local news reports.

The 54-year-old was confirmed as the agency's 15th director last July and assumed the position in September.

"Sam was a friend, a visionary, and a professional whose years of service and passionate dedication to his work have left an indelible mark on the lands and wildlife we cherish," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. "His forward-thinking approach to conservation -- including his view that we must think beyond boundaries at the landscape-scale -- will continue to shape our nation's stewardship for years to come. My heart goes out to Sam's family, friends, and colleagues as we remember a remarkable leader and a compassionate, wise, and eternally optimistic man."

Before becoming director, Hamilton served as the agency's southeast regional director, which included 10 U.S. states and the Caribbean. He supervised FWS and Interior Department restoration efforts in the Everglades and Gulf of Mexico region following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Hamilton's conservation career spanned more than 30 years beginning as a 15-year-old working with the Youth Conservation Corps, according to the Interior Department. He is survived by his wife, Becky, two sons and a grandson.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a bureau of the Interior Department established in 1940 as part of a department reorganization. The agency oversees conservation and development projects related to the nation's fish and wildlife resources and similar education efforts, among other things.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 20, 2010; 10:52 PM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments  
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That's sad. Rest in peace, Sam Hamilton.

Posted by: chunche | February 20, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

Not a bad way to go out, all in all.
On top of his game (wildlife conservation,) skiing in the Colorado Rockies, and to top it all off, probably with his loved ones at his side.

We should all be so lucky.

Posted by: BrianX9 | February 21, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Director Hamilton, for your years of service to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I was proud to work under you at FWS, and this is a huge loss for all FWS employees, and for everyone who cared about wildlife and habitat conservation. You will be missed, and deepest sympathies to your family.

Posted by: kuhar352 | February 21, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Did he serve during the Bush administration, making him a de facto war criminal?

Posted by: member5 | February 22, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

You're an idiot. Obviously not everyone who worked for the 'W' regime is a war criminal.

The main thug - the uber-traitor himself - currently lies in a hospital due to a glitch in his machine-heart.

I hope he never leaves that hospital.

Posted by: lquarton | February 23, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

lquarton, you sick teabagger, Bill Clinton was not part of the Bush Administration.

May you die a painful death, raped to death with this very newspaper.

Posted by: member5 | February 23, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

And just because Bush and Clinton are working together now does not make Clinton a Bushie. He just has to make compromises to save the poor Haitians.

lquarton, you are sick sick sick.

Posted by: member5 | February 23, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

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