Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Douglas Paul Hammond - January 9, 1943 – May 18, 2020
The world lost a good one on Monday May 18th. The final cause of death was most certainly COVID-19; however, Alzheimer’s Disease had already taken away so many things that my father, Doug Hammond, loved. As I started to make phone calls to family and friends with the news, multiple people shared that he told them if he ever gets Alzheimer’s Disease that he just wants to get in a plane and fly it into the lake. This virus, although terrible, let my father fly that plane. My family is all too familiar with the disease. My father cared for his mother, Alice Hammond (Combs) who lived with it until she was 98 years old. He simultaneously cared for his wife, Kathy Hammond (O’Friel), who also suffered from the disease for 15 years. But let me back up a bit as he lived far too great a life to start at the end…
My father grew up in Franklin, Ohio. He was born 9 weeks before his father, Owen Clark Hammond, was deployed by the Navy to the Pacific for World War II. His mother, Alice Marie Hammond (Combs), worked the night shift in a small aircraft factory, which she rode her motorbike to and from, so she could be with him during the day. At 5’ 10” she was a star basketball player. His sister, Sandra Kay Harville (Hammond), was born after the war in 1947, however sadly passed away in 1974, leaving behind her now deceased husband Larry, and three children. Owen and Alice were religious and hard working. Owen (one of 9 children) was a carpenter, went to church three times a week, and worked on the farm. Alice in later years worked at the cafeteria at my father’s junior high school and often knew he was in trouble before he did. My memories of being with them include fresh picked strawberries, riding the tractor, canned green beans, popcorn on the stove and glass bottled sodas.
My dad loved basketball and football. He was Co-Captain and is in the Hall of Fame for his high school. He went on to play football at Otterbein College where he graduated with a degree in Education. My mom went to a rival high school in Middletown, Ohio. Apparently, he stood her up on their first date after her high school beat his team that evening in basketball. Somehow, he convinced her to give him a second try years later.
Doug married Roberta Kathleen O’Friel on her birthday in 1967. He had been drafted into the Army in 1966 and got deployed to Vietnam right after they married. One of his favorite stories, and an event which changed the trajectory of his life, was how he ended up as a pilot. Despite being an athlete, at 6’ 2” and 220 lbs. with 16 years of education, he was drafted and assigned to be a cook. My dad (uninvited) went in to see the Commanding Officer and convinced him that he would be much more valuable to the Army as a pilot. So off he went to OCS and flight school. He served in Vietnam for 13 months, and was singled out to be a platoon leader. As a gunship pilot, he flew the Huey Cobra helicopter for the 17th CAV, which sent him to Dak-To and the Central Highlands. During this time he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and many Air Medals. He ended his Army commitment as a captain and flight instructor. After his service, he got a job selling helicopters for Bell Helicopter. There are countless stories of my dad landing helicopters where he shouldn’t. He made an impression on one of his customers, Ray Kroc, McDonalds Founder of the Franchisee business, and took a job flying for him. I remember flying with him and the Hamburgler.
My dad’s next career move, took our family from Ohio to Bolton, Massachusetts in the early 80s. He was recruited by Ken Olsen, Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, to start a flight department for the company. He ended up being Global Vice President of Administrative Services, which included the acquisition and disposition of Digital properties, worldwide.
I was lucky to be in Bolton kindergarten through High School. My dad was a (loud) fixture on the side lines of my soccer games, shouting “hubba hubba” at both me and my friends running down the field. He and my mom learned to downhill ski with me and taught countless friends how to dive and water ski. We almost always had a boat in the driveway and he loved to take friends to local lakes for tubing, skiing, picnics and multiple sunsets. He also loved cars. Our driveway required 4 wheel drive and he joyfully went through multiple Grand Wagoneers and Broncos as well as a John Deere tractor to help with the plowing. He was always generous with his time and made friends wherever he went. He picked up hitch hikers, always stopped to help change a tire and would plow the driveway for neighbors for fun. He made connections with people wherever he went, always loving to make people smile. It was during these years in Bolton that he also started his own “Clydesdale” team for the Boston Marathon (he was the only member). Growing up as a star athlete, he said completing the marathon was the only sport he could participate in and still draw a crowd. The last marathon he completed was the 100th Boston Marathon in 1996.
Doug retired from Digital in 2000 when it got acquired; and moved up to Laconia, NH where he started another career at Channel Marine on Lake Winnipesaukee. It was there that my mom’s Alzheimer’s really started impacting her daily life and he dedicated himself to her care. The downstairs bedroom was equipped with a hospital bed, the bathroom made handicap accessible and my dad slept on a twin mattress on the floor beside her. It was during this time that my father also became a CASA volunteer advocate for abused and neglected children in NH. That’s my dad. Everyone knows him as kind, hard-working, tough, funny and excessively generous. Life did not give him a fair hand. When my mom passed away in 2015, his Alzheimer’s set in. He maintained his love of flying and actively tried to get a job again with Bell Helicopter. He was a dedicated father, grandfather, and loyal friend. Kids and dogs could always make him smile. I am very thankful for his village of lifelong friends who helped him and my family during this difficult time in his life, especially Gerry Curley and Betty Byrne who were there for the really hard stuff.
Doug Hammond is leaving behind a loving son, John Hammond of Manchester, NH; a loving daughter, Lindsay Lewis (Hammond), a son in law Stephen Lewis, and three fantastic grandkids, Stephen “Finn” Lewis (10), Shea Lewis (10) and Ashton Lewis (4) of Boxford, Ma; two sisters in law, Sally Joranko of Mentor, OH and Mary and her husband David Ballinger of Batavia, OH; four nephews; Greg Harville and his wife Jodi of Columbus, OH and Mitch Harville and his wife Jennifer of Columbus, OH, David Joranko and his wife Nora of Shaker Heights, OH, Michael Ballinger and his wife Nicole of LaGrange, KY; four nieces, Mindy Ballinger of Estes Park, CO, Kelly Rogg and her husband Chuck of Batavia, OH, Katie Rodriguez and her husband Mel of Powell, OH, and Gillian Schoenfeld and her husband Adam of Venice, CA. Doug also leaves behind several great nieces and nephews.
Services will be held at a later time. Arrangements are entrusted in the care of Tighe Hamilton Regioanal Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Alzheimer's Association, P.O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011; www.alz.org