When cancer took his left eye, he saw a God-given opportunity for children’s ministry.

Ron Hamilton wrote hundreds of hymns and worship songs, including “Rejoice in the Lord,” “Here Am I, Lord,” and “I Saw Jesus in You.” He was also a composer and published 20 Christmas cantatas.

But he is known most for his sillier work: 41 kids albums, written by and starring him as the one-eyed “Patch the Pirate.” Alongside his wife as “Sissy the Seagull” and their kids playing assorted sea creatures and crew, he went on adventures and sang lessons about life, the Bible, and God.

“Not a lot of Christian pirates around,” Hamilton told a church in 2014. “I’m about the only one. It’s a lot of fun.”

Hamilton lost his left eye to cancer when he was 26. He started wearing an eye patch, and as he recounted many times over the years, children began to recognize him as a pirate, pointing him out to their parents, asking if they could be pirates too, and greeting him in his home church with a hearty “Ahoy!”

The Hamiltons put out the first Patch the Pirate album in 1981, a second in 1982, and released them annually after that. More than two million copies have been sold, and the songs are broadcast on more than 450 radio stations, making Patch the Pirate one of the largest children’s outreach programs on the radio.

In 2018, as dementia was rapidly shrinking his world, Hamilton’s wife, Shelly Garlock Hamilton, tried to encourage him by reminding him of that success. “Do you realize how many people you have blessed with your music, Ron?” she said.

Hamilton replied: “I’d like to think God did it.”

He died on Wednesday, surrounded by family, at the age of 72.

Tributes and remembrances poured in …

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