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Former GBI director and lifelong public servant Hamrick dies at 78
James Hamrick

Law enforcement agencies across the state and beyond have lost one of their most well-known and steadfast champions with the passing of James Robert “Robbie” Hamrick late last week.

Hamrick, 78, of Carrollton, who was a fixture in law enforcement world for more than 50 years, passed away on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 11, according to a McDonald and Son Funeral Home obituary. 

According to Hamrick’s wife of 51 years, Linda, law enforcement was the only career he ever wanted.

“Even at an early age, he knew that that was what he wanted his career path to be,” Linda Hamrick said. 

From the beginning of his career at the Georgia Department of Public Safety in 1959 to his eventual two-decade directorship of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Hamrick served in a number of different key law enforcement positions, including special agent; squad commander of the GBI criminal intelligence unit; special agent in charge of the Atlanta Field Office; director of the GBI investigative division, and supervisor of investigations on the Atlanta Murdered and Missing Children Task Force.

In 1993 after 35 years of service, Hamrick retired from the GBI.

Linda Hamrick said that his drive to help and protect was sparked early, when he was taken under the wing of the Carrollton Chief of Police, who lived next door.

Linda Hamrick said that her husband was a quiet, kind person that was easy to be with. They recently celebrated 51 years of marriage and in that half a century, they rarely fought.

“I’m sure we had little arguments,” Linda Hamrick said. “But I can say that I don’t remember a big blowup ever.”

“Those two were just made for each other,” said Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, who said he got to know Robbie and Linda Hamrick well during Hamrick’s time at the GBI and in Forsyth County.

In 2001, Hamrick re-entered the world of law enforcement when he was appointed Chief Deputy of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office by Sheriff Ted Paxton, a position he would hold for more than 12 years until his retirement in 2012.

Freeman said that when he met Hamrick in 2001, the two men instantly bonded over past acquaintances. Freeman said that Hamrick’s ability to remember people and places was one of the things that set him apart. 

“I could go in his office at any time and say, ‘I need to reach out to somebody in Pascagoula, Mississippi,’ and he would lean back, think and say, ‘Call Captain Jim So and So at Pascagoula,’” Freeman said. 

Freeman said that no matter the city or agency, Hamrick was well known.  

“And I cannot tell you the dozens of times I was at different law enforcement agencies — sometimes all the way on the west coast – and when people found out I was from Georgia they would ask me if I knew Robbie Hamrick,” Freeman said.

He said that Hamrick was the epitome of a “true Southern gentleman” who could do the seemingly impossible task of both commanding a room and making each person in that room felt heard and appreciated. 

Hamrick’s obituary states that he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Georgia State University, going on to serve on the board of Georgia State University’s Alumni Association and the College of Public and Urban Affairs Advisory Board. He was also a member of numerous public service and law enforcement community organizations.

The public funeral service will take place at Johns Creek Baptist Church, 6910 McGinnis Ferry Road in Alpharetta from 3-4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19.