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Family

Marilyn     |    Business    |     Sports     |     Family     |     Achievements     |     Philanthropy     |     Articles     |     Links

Marilyn’s family and close circle of friends have always been an inspiration and encouragement for her drive, innovations and success.

Growing up, Marilyn enjoyed a strong family foundation of love, faith, courage and support – exactly the strengths she would draw upon when misfortune entered her life, enabling her to transform the worst of circumstances into the best of opportunities.

Her mother and father, Mary and Edward Koobation, instilled strong values into all of their children, including Marilyn’s two brothers, Jon and Stanley, and sister, Barbara, establishing a household in which helping others became a natural part of family life. Marilyn watched her mother, grandmother and great grandmother unselfishly give of their time for good causes, witnessing first-hand their examples of kindness and determination.

After Marilyn’s grandmother, Hatoon Bazarian, passed away, she learned about a part of her life that had gone unspoken for as long as Marilyn had known her. She found that Grandma Bazarian had lived a life of unbelievable drama and sadness under Armenian persecution in Turkish Armenia. At the risk of her own life, she was able to escape the brutal tyranny by fleeing to Syria, where she emerged as a courageous freedom fighter, defending her family and friends during World War I. In 1922, Grandma Bazarian immigrated to the United States, where she became a proud citizen and began a new life, grateful for the many opportunities this land afforded. This amazing woman never let her painful past hold her back or make her bitter – she moved on with her life through the sheer power of optimism. Reflecting on her grandmother’s triumph over adversity gave Marilyn much-needed strength and courage as she sought to overcome the setbacks that would impact her own life.

During her last year in college, Marilyn married her high school sweetheart, Rick Hamilton. After graduating, Marilyn and Rick ventured off to Australia where they both taught high school. Exploring the exotic and challenging continent ignited the couple’s adventurous spirit, and they set off to travel extensively around the world before returning to the United States three years later. They returned with wonderful stories, a thirst for adventure, and a totally new perspective on life.

Marilyn and Rick settled down on an 80-acre farm in California, dividing their time between their teaching careers, sports, travel and generally living life to its fullest. But just when life seemed to be unfolding the way the couple had always wanted, a personal error caused Marilyn to experience a harrowing hang gliding accident. Seeing her hopes and dreams shattering before her, Marilyn knew her life would never be the same.

During her recovery, Marilyn’s family became instrumental. She especially connected with Rick’s Uncle Bill, who became a vibrant role model and inspiration.

Uncle Bill grew up in the early part of the 20th century, a star high school athlete, a good student and all-around popular guy. One day he was riding with his brother in a Ford Model T, when another Model T ran them off the road. Uncle Bill was thrown from the car and broke his neck. Bill became a quadriplegic in the era before World War 1 – in a time when people weren’t expected to live a day, let alone a year…and certainly not a lifetime. But Uncle Bill was an extraordinary man. He not only survived, but went on to attend UCLA and Loyola Law School before running the packing operation for the family farms.

Marilyn always appreciated Uncle Bill because he never let his injury stop him from participating or contributing. But she had no idea how amazing he was until her own accident. Lying in Intensive Care, she noticed him sitting in the corner of the room with a tear in his eye, and instantly felt the most amazing bond with him. He looked at her and whispered, “Don’t let that adventurous spirit of yours ever die.” From that day on, he always challenged her thinking, gave her hope and encouraged her to pursue her dreams. Through his words and his example, Uncle Bill inspired Marilyn to push for more and challenge her limits.

Through Marilyn’s tragedy, a sense of purpose emerged. Her dreams changed from soaring in the sky to soaring to the top of everything she endeavored to do. While some paths ended with her accident, other paths opened, leading to her rise as a champion in national and Paralympic tennis and snow skiing, her emergence as a business leader and founder of vital nonprofit organizations.

While her life’s journey eventually led to a separation from her greatest friend, Rick, it also led to a fulfilling marriage to another remarkable man (with the same last name!): Bob Hamilton ...or, as she so affectionately calls him, Mr. Spectacular! The way Marilyn sees it, she spent the first 1/3 of her life experiencing all the adventure and excitement life has to offer. She spent the next 1/3 drawing upon her experiences and support from family & friends to overcome adversity, adjust to life in a wheelchair, create businesses and give back to the world that had given her so much. Now as she embarks on a new adventure with ENVISION, she looks forward to the next 1/3 of her life growing dynamic relationships with Bob, family, friends, and to contributing to the world in a whole new way.

 

Family photos
Family Photos


Envision by Marilyn Hamilton copyright 2007