John was a graduate of Exeter Academy. At Princeton he roomed with Jon Olson, Alan Willemsen, Denny Burns, Ted Mack, and Jim Park, eating his meals at Quad. After two years as a naval officer, John attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1960, and subsequently joined the Boston firm of Hale and Dorr.
John became a prominent real estate lawyer who helped shape the Boston skyline of the 1970s and ’80s. In 1984 he was named managing partner of Hale and Dorr, where his successor, William F. Lee, described John as the firm’s visionary, architect, builder, mentor, and leader. Among his many achievements was his commitment to community service. In 2005 he received the Pro Bono Institute’s award that recognizes law-firm leaders who have an extraordinary commitment to equal justice.
John was an active supporter of Princeton ’55 and received the Class of 1955 Distinguished Achievement Award.
Besides Cheryl, he is survived by his daughter, Linda Hamilton, son John Hamilton III, granddaughter Tess Hamilton, and his sister, Hope Pettegrew. Next year there will be a memorial service in Boston.