Hazel Hammer

Honored by:Her family and friends
Brick location:PAVER:22 and PAVER:42  map

Honored by her family

Hazel Churchill Mills Hammer was born on August 29, 1925, in Willcox, Arizona. She spent her early childhood in Cochise County, Arizona. At the age of nine, she moved to Wayne, Michigan to live with her aunt and uncle, Lila and Cy Bigler. She was salutatorian of the 1943 graduating class of Wayne High School and attended the University of Michigan until 1946. In that same year she met Charles Lawrence Hammer. They were married on August 14, 1948. Their son, David, was born on August 22, 1949, soon to be followed by their first daughter, Alison, on July 19, 1951.

Charles received his Ph.D. of Physics in 1953. He accepted a teaching and research position at Iowa State University on July 1, 1954. The family moved to Ames, Iowa, in June of 1954. Once in Ames, Charles busied himself with his new career while Hazel raised their two children. After living in student housing at Pammel Court for three years, the family built a house at 1222 Scholl Road. Hazel took on voluntary duties at the Unitarian Fellowship. Both she and Charles became active in the Ames Choral Society and Ames Community Theatre of Recreational Services (ACTORS) productions. Hazel gave birth to two more daughters, Carla on June 27, 1960, and Bonnie on December 11, 1962.

In addition to raising their family and staying very active in the community, Hazel and Charles developed a passion for politics and became heavily involved with the Democratic Party. Additionally Hazel's work at the Unitarian Fellowship grew and she had increased responsibilities with ACTORS. Hazel was very dedicated to her volunteer work. She mothered each and every one of these organizations like they were her own children. The volunteers members and supportive personnel felt her love and deep commitment. She was very giving to these organizations with humility, generosity and quiet leadership. She never complained, only offered; never made excuses, only faithful commitment. One manifestation of her efforts was the formation of the Ames Community Arts Council (ACAC), an organization in which Hazel became a very active leader. She stayed consistent with her volunteer life for four decades.

Hazel enjoyed gardening, cooking, rock collecting, fishing, hunting for edible mushrooms and gathering mementos of her children's lives. She also enjoyed family vacations in Aspen, Colorado, where the family spent many summers mountain hiking and backpacking together. In later years, Hazel and Charles enjoyed vacationing in Germany and Alaska.

In May of 1994, Hazel was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive type of brain cancer. She faced her terminal illness with steadfast courage and strength. She never complained about her disease and comforted and reassured everyone who offered their concern. Hazel learned much and taught much during this period of her life. Hazel passed away on April 18, 1995.

In her many roles in the making of Ames community, Hazel Hammer was a familiar face. Her cheerful attitude and ever-present smile are remembered by many who hold her dear. In her volunteer efforts, she was never known to complain or be bitter and so it was as she faced dying. The people blessed by Hazel's attention through the years returned the blessings all throughout Hazel's illness. The outpouring of love and support by the community and friends was overwhelming and spiritually uplifting. It was our comfort to know that so many had felt the privilege of knowing Hazel Hammer.

Hazel's greatest gifts were her abilities to love all people unconditionally to be accepting of others, to have tolerance, to be non-judgmental and sensitive to the needs of others, to master community spirit and to give generously and hospitably. We as her family wanted to dedicate this paver to our dear mother, wife, and sister who was not only a gift to our lives but to the community of Ames. She was a very rare special person and we will miss her sweet, quiet spirit, joyful countenance and loving presence dearly. May God embrace her always.

The family of Hazel Hammer: Charles Hammer, Dean Mills, Harry Mills, David Hammer, Alison Cocks, Carla Kia, and Bonnie Hammer


Paver Inscription:

"Honoring Hazel Hammer
Beloved Wife and mother
Loving and giving always
A compassionate leader
Dedicated to a caring society
Reformer for open government
Inspirer of community spirit
Promoter of civic involvement
Advocate for the arts"

Honored by her friends

Hazel was a mainstay of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Through her care she made odd-shaped concrete walls of the fellowship building into a home for the congregation. In her last year as she came to services in her bed, her love of life tumed the rooms into sacred space. Susan Franzen

Hazel Hammer was a courageous woman with a quiet manner who loved her husband, family, friends and community. I first knew Hazel over 37 years ago when we met folk-dancing. I'm not sure if she loved folk-dancing but Charlie was interested so she went. This is typical of Hazel. She made sure her husband had time for his interests and she shared many of them: politics (babysitting for the Harkins when they were just starting in politics); ACTORS; mountain climbing (Hazel whisked up the Colorado mountains near Aspen encouraging two young children while I, a decade younger, panted along behind thus helping me decide to begin jogging!); social events and travel. She gave unstintingly amounts of her time and energy to the Unitarians and the Ames Arts Council. Hazel had a practical, calm manner. This means that though she was always open in her views (Democratic bumper stickers would stay on her car for years), she avoided confrontation and treated "triumphs" and "disasters" just the same. I love Hazel and will miss her quiet, helpful, and reliable presence. Holly Fuchs

We've known Hazel for many years. Our children grew up together and she was the best friend a family could have. We remember so well: shared meals summer picnics fish fries hiking in Aspen. She is the one who appeared on our doorstep when we first moved to Ames with a bouquet of field daisies because Ferol had told her she liked them. She is right there in many of our happiest memories. Roland and Ferol Good

My admiration of Hazel Hammer is great due to her humanistic qualities. She was a woman who gave lovingly throughout her entire life. She devoted her time, her energy, and her compassion to her family, friends and community. Her greatest gifts to this world were her four children. She instilled in each her qualities of love, acceptance, perseverance, honesty and other qualities attributed to great people. In her children, her fine character lives on. Her life and her love have blessed so many and in our hearts she will be forever. Thank you, Hazel. Cindy Goodwyn

Fame and acclaim have not changed the essential Hazel, the person we knew in the early years as warm, generous and kind. She remains undaunted. Marilyn and Jim Griffin

Hazel was the "nanny" for our first daughter, Amy, for nearly three years while Ruth was Story County Attorney, and I was in Congress. She took wonderful care of Amy and since Hazel was always on the go getting things done for Actors the Story County, democrats, the Unitarian Church, the University, etc., we think Amy actually met more constituents in those three years than we did! Hazel was our neighbor, our friend and part of our family. Senator Tom Harkin. Ruth, Amy and Jenny Harkin

Some of the best times of our lives have been those shared with Hazel Hammer. (And of course with Charlie since their lives define "togetherness.") Child rearing, gardening, politics, bridge, camping, travel - all were done together at various times over 44 years. In Later years we found ourselves touring and cruising the Northwest and Alaska (1989) touring by auto through Germany, Switzerland and Austria (1990) and in Pasadena and at Sedona, AZ (1992). No greater or rarer gift exists than friends like these with whom you can enjoy so much! It is not just the fun that counts. The intellectual and emotional rewards of such companionship are priceless treasures. Thank you Hazel for just being you!
Don and Hazel Hudson

I have many memories of Hazel Hammer some of her with Charlie some of her alone. She and Charlie were among the first people Joan and I met when we arrived in Ames in the fall of 1959. We met them through our next-door neighbors, the Hudsons. Much later in 1976 I believe we went to Aspen for the first time. We were there for a full month that time. Hazel and Charlie introduced us to almost all the hikes we took that summer and have taken since. When Hazel was along the hikes were often collecting trips and all her companions became Sherpas lugging home rocks (doorstop size and up) and mushrooms if any were found. On one hike up to Buckskin Pass, perhaps 50 pounds of big, flat mushrooms or shelf fungi were carried down in makeshift conveyances made from ponchos. At the parking lot we found that most of them had spoiled already. Hazel later reported she had cooked up about one frying-pan full just a few hours later, and that was all that looked all right to eat.

In between then and now, we ran into Hazel at any Democratic party function we attended, and at ACTORS. She was important to both groups. More recently, from the spring of 1988 to November 1989, Joan had a malignant brain tumor, much like the one Hazel has now. The details may differ but both prognoses were the same. Hazel visited Joan at home very often, perhaps even daily. They took walks as long as Joan could. She was one of few visitors in the last weeks when Joan could not really interact with visitors. Joan said several times how much she appreciated Hazel's friendship. I, too, appreciate it. David W. Lynch

Hazel, your very soft voice was a gentle song. Your kindness to others was a profound gift from your heart. You were always willing to lend us your hands, cheerfully and in a thoughtful way for your whole life. When I close my eyes, I can hear your laugh and see your gentle heartwarming smile. Your door was always opened and no one was a stranger in your house. You tenderly touched everyone you knew, and gave us peace and strength. Not many people would do all that you had done for us, and we knew it would never happen again. Each one who loved you hears your tenderhearted voice forever. David S. and Kazue E. Moroi

Hazel welcomed, celebrated, encouraged and supported us through all her years. Her quiet devotion to friends, family and community groups had not been equaled. Tom and Gretchen Weber

Paver Inscription:

"Hazel Hammer
Caring Mother