Robert Hamilton, who for years ran a Southern Pines toy store with his wife, is the 23rd individual to die of complications from COVID-19 in Moore County. He was 76.
In posts on social media, family members said Hamilton was being treated for the disease at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital. He died “surrounded by his loved ones” at the hospital on Sept. 8, according to an obituary.
A native of Durham, Hamilton served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Hamilton went on to work for IBM, and he and his wife moved to Aberdeen following his retirement.
After settling in Moore County, Hamilton began a second career at The Little Toy Shop in downtown Southern Pines, where he worked until about five years ago alongside his wife Barbara. He was known to patrons as “Choo-Choo Bob,” his obituary said.
Robbie Farrell, mayor of Aberdeen, described Robert Hamilton as a “great gentleman.”
“He was kind to everyone,” Farrell said in a phone interview. “Especially children.”
Farrell is a longtime member of Page Memorial United Methodist Church, where Robert Hamilton was a Sunday school teacher and lay minister.
“He and his wife volunteered at the church,” Farrell said. “They were always smiling at church and they were faithful to the church.”
Robert Hamilton is survived by his wife and their son. A memorial service will be held at “a date to be determined,” according to the obituary.
“He was an all-around great guy and we’re going to miss him,” Farrell said.
Robert Hamilton is the 10th resident of Moore County to die after contracting COVID-19 through community spread. The county’s 13 other deaths are linked to outbreaks in long-term care settings.
The Moore County Health Department said deaths are attributed to COVID-19 whenever an individual who has tested positive dies before they recover from the disease and there is no “alternate cause of death.”
Donations in Hamilton's memory can be made to the Page Memorial United Methodist Church food pantry at 115 W. Main St. in Aberdeen.