Bill Hamilton was born in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. He is a Master Parachutist and served 20 years as an infantry officer
in the US Army, including two tours in Vietnam, earning the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 20 Air Medals, four Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart.
He served as editor-in-chief of the Lincoln Capital Times, worked as a featured commentator for USA Today, and wrote a weekly, nationally-syndicated newspaper column for 25 years. He has been a guest commentator on PBS News Hour and CNN and has contributed regularly to Grand County papers.
Bill and his wife Penny established a part-time home in Grand County in 1989 and moved as full-time residents in 1992.
They came for the skiing and sailing and because of the Granby Airport, which was essential to their “work for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), representing Colorado’s over 11,000 general aviation pilots and over 20,000 pilots in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Wyoming.”
The Hamiltons founded the Grand County Aviation Association with retired fighter pilot Bud Henderson and, later, The Friends of the Granby Airport (FGA). In 2015, he and Penny would transform the FGA into the Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum to honor the Grand County resident and first female American airline pilot as well as other famous pilots who played a role in Grand County’s aviation history.
Strong proponents of first responders, the Hamiltons raised money so Grand County Search and Rescue could have a device to detect the Emergency Locator Equipment (ELT) signals from downed aircraft, for mountain flying instructors to do safety instruction for Grand County pilots, and to support the work of the Friends of the Granby Airport and its volunteers.
“Penny and I love Grand County,” Bill notes, “because it is isolated from the crowded turmoil of the rest of the world. But when it is necessary to be part of the ‘outer world,’ we have two fine General Aviation airports that serve as the access ramp to any place on earth. As we like to say, ‘A mile of highway will take you one mile. But a mile of runway will take you anyplace in the world.’”
Bill has been inducted into the Colorado and Nebraska Aviation Halls of Fame. He is a member of the Oklahoma Army ROTC Wall of Fame, Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, and is a University of Nebraska Distinguished alumni award winner. His lifetime of journalism work and four spy novels, co-written with Penny, have earned him a place in the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
Dave and Karen Hammer
Dave was born in Boulder, Colorado, the fourth of five children. His father had worked at Climax Molybdenum in the late 1940s and, at one time, acquired a mining claim on the Blue River, north of where Silverthorne later became situated.
The family moved to the claim in the early 1960s, living in two old sawmill cabins until 1965, when they started building their home. Dave graduated in Summit County, when it was a K-12 school, and was very active in the music department. He went to the Colorado School of Mines and later transferred to CU-Boulder.
Karen was born in Wisconsin and has two brothers. She spent her earliest years in Iowa before her family relocated to Northglenn, Colorado when she was six. She graduated from Northglenn High School where she was active in the business and art departments. She attended the University of Northern Colorado, then transferred to Metro State College, attending night school for the next several years. During the day, she worked full-time in the accounting field, commuting from Summit County her last few semesters.
Dave and Karen met in 1983 and were married a year later, residing in Summit County. They worked hand in hand to build their construction, gravel, and electrical businesses. They built many roads related to timber production in the 1980s for the US Forest Service and Louisiana Pacific. This was the beginning of their engagement with Grand County culture, making friends and conducting business in the world of logging and agriculture.
In 1999, they had an opportunity to sell part of their businesses. It was a natural fit to head to Kremmling, and they set out to acquire the Peak Ranch and transition into their new lives. They immediately started a cattle operation, inheriting many
of the employees already living at the Peak Ranch and who had worked for Grand River Ranches.
The Hammers quickly immersed themselves into the community. They felt motivated to help maintain the fabric of the vibrant ag/ranching culture that they’d moved into, with its strong history in Kremmling and the surrounding communities.
They have been active with the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo, sponsoring many events and activities over the years. Dave is a National Western Stock Show member and serves on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Habitat partnership as the agricultural representative. He is a board member of the West Grand Community Educational Foundation and the Middle Park Stockgrowers, and was active in the Middle Park Medical Foundation until early 2020.
Karen is also active with the West Grand Community Educational Foundation, holding the position
of Treasurer for many years. She is a member of the Middle Park Cowbelles. They are both members of the Middle Park Farm Bureau.
In August 2005, Dave and Karen researched, designed, and built the Kremmling Mercantile, when Kremmling would have been left without a local grocer. They are proud to have accomplished this quickly, leaving Kremmling without groceries for only 10 days, and to be providing essential services and tax revenue necessary for the vitality of small towns.
“This commitment was way beyond our grasp at the time we made it,” says Dave, “but it has become one of the most important ones that we have ever made.”
The Hammers also own The Moose Cafe, purchased in 2003. Karen says the best part of owning the Cafe is being able to provide additional jobs, especially for students, and maintaining a community atmosphere with the drop-in “locals table” (plus, she can have all the bacon she can eat!).
The strengths of the community are fully integrated into the way they have lived their lives. Laughingly, they said they know that 21 years doesn’t make them locals yet, but they are proud to call Kremmling home.