Retired since 1978, the former city manager first came to Rome in 1939 to help build the Blossom Hill water treatment plant that now bears his name. He watched the levees being built and later segregation dismantled.
He was convinced to stay by Sam King, the citys first manager to run the water plant and sewer lines he helped install and came to know like the back of his hand. He became the superintendent of the water department in 1940, the superintendent of all public works in 1953, then moved into the overall management of Rome starting in 1962.
Those who worked for him including the current city manager, John Bennett remember his encyclopedic knowledge of both the visible and invisible infrastructure of Rome, that he didnt mind getting his hands dirty to help get a job done, and that he always stood behind his employees. And, it should be noted, for the primacy over local self-rule. He didnt think much of the notion that state and federal authorities had the right to tell Romans how to run their city.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIC knowledge, by the way, was there even into his 90s when current city officials (and Past Times, this newspaper companys annual magazine devoted to regional history) accessing it for information that otherwise would have been lost.
While it might have been a toss-up which he loved more Rome or auto racing there was no question but that, despite not having been born in the shadow of the Clock Tower, this was his home and he desired no other.
Rome has been fortunate, over the decades since it went the manager/commission form of running public affairs in 1918, to have had very capable professionals in the managerial role, most of who stayed around for a long time. (There have only been five city managers in almost a century.)
Hamler was first a student of how this was done and then a master teacher of it.
His kindness and patience in teaching comparative newcomers to his community the ropes served many well ... including the editorial page editor writing this.
On Friday, when a memorial service for him will be held at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, there will be much to remember ... and much to thank Hamler for regarding his contributions to todays community by laying down so many of its building blocks.
BRUCE HAMLERS legacy is that he casts a shadow as big as that of the Clock Tower over the core and heart of this city. Were sad to have lost him; we should be glad we had him with us for so long