The USC Athletic Department Thursday announced the death of John Hamilton, who helped establish the USC Athletic Hall of Fame and the now-shuttered Newport Sports Museum.

Hamilton died Wednesday in Newport Beach of COVID-related complications, according to USC. He was 78.

The 1964 USC graduate and Orange County native “was a driving force behind the development of the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 and served as its chairman until 2015,” according to a USC statement. For his efforts, he was inducted that year into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

In 2003, Hamilton co-founded and chaired the IMPACT Foundation at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, which annually awards the Lott IMPACT Trophy to the nation’s top defensive college football player.

In 1994, Hamilton founded the Newport Sports Museum in Newport Beach, which housed 12,000 items of sports memorabilia until closing in 2014.

“Besides displaying rare sports artifacts from around the world, the Newport Sports Museum’s mission was to keep youngsters in school and off of drugs by getting them involved in athletics,” according to the USC statement.

Hamilton headed the Hamilton Co., a residential and commercial real estate agency in Newport Beach, and was involved in various charitable and community organizations, including Goodwill Industries, Big Brothers, The Pacific Club, USC Associates, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and the Richard Nixon Foundation.

His late mother, Patricia Reilly Hitt, was the first female national co-chair of a presidential campaign — for Richard Nixon in 1968 — and served as assistant secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in his first administration.

He is survived by wife, Kathy, son John Jr., daughters Kate and Jill, brother Rick and 10 grandchildren.

Services are pending.

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