Rodolphe Hamel

Rodolphe (“Rod” or “Rudy”) Hamel died in his sleep at his home in Hohokus, N.J., on Jan. 10, 2022. Born in Lewiston on June 3, 1929, the only son of Rodolphe and Alvina Bilodeau Hamel, he graduated from Lewiston High School in 1946.

He had his own radio program on WCOU as a high school student, as so many others whose voices had changed were off to war. He matriculated with the class of 1950 at Yale University, where he captained the debate team his senior year. He earned his law degree from Harvard Law School and served as an Army JAG in Germany for three years, during which time he met Marilyn Johnsen, an Army nurse, whom he married in 1957. He began his civilian career with the New York law firm of Shearman & Sterling, which asked him, as a native French speaker, to help open their Paris office. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1966, he began a long career with Bristol-Myers, later Bristol-Myers Squibb, which he concluded in 1996 as General Counsel. He spent his retirement years traveling the world, but returned to Lewiston and his childhood home on Weber Avenue at least once a year, as long as he was physically able.

Rod had a keen intellect and quick sense of humor. Nothing pleased him more than to sit next to a stranger at a function and elicit that person’s life story, without the stranger learning the first thing about him. He insisted that these people always left the meal having had a wonderful time. He loved history and classical music, and amassed a considerable library of both over many decades. His travel adventures included both the North Pole and Antarctica and between 50 and 75 countries – he lost count at some point.

Rod is survived by Marilyn, his wife of 64 years; two children, Matthew (Lena) and Anne; Matthew’s children Emilie (Tuhin) and Olivia; Anne’s son, Erik; and Emilie’s daughter, Vanessa. He was pre-deceased by his parents and parents-in-law. Rod will be interred with his parents at St. Peter Cemetery of Lewiston.

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