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Gail K. Hamm

1951 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Gail K. Hamm Obituary
Gail K. Hamm died peacefully at home in East Hampton, CT on Thursday, October 24, 2013 after a three year struggle with cancer. Gail is survived by Alan Hurst, her husband of 38 years. Gail served in the Connecticut General Assembly as State Representative for the 34th District (East Hampton, Middletown and, before redistricting, Haddam) from 1998 to 2013.

Born in Hillsdale, Michigan on August 19, 1951, to the late Denver Hamm, Jr. and the late Norma Jeanne (Thayer) Hamm, Gail earned a B.A. from Western Michigan University and her J.D. from Valparaiso University (IN).

Throughout Gail's life, she possessed a commitment to community involvement and advocacy on behalf of women, children and working people. Tokenua "Renee" White, one of her home health aides, said "You meet some people who just light your fire and inspire you to do more. I was lucky to meet Gail. She's one of those people. The changes she worked for were beneficial to so many, including me."

Immediately after college, Gail served as an Advance Person on a Michigan gubernatorial campaign and later, while in law school, participated in Project Justice, which involved a federal courts clinic, federal litigation, poverty law, and prisoner and civil rights. She subsequently served as Law Clerk to Juvenile Court Judge Raymond Kickbush in Indiana where she worked on issues relating to child abuse and neglect.

Upon moving to Connecticut, Gail served as Legislative Aide to Connecticut State Representative John Mannix (R-Wilton). Her work included a white paper on welfare in Connecticut, which was published in the New York Times in November, 1980. During that time she was also a founder and Board member of Women in Crisis in Norwalk.

From 1986 to 1990, Gail served as Legislative Liaison for the Connecticut General Assembly's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women where she was responsible for the development, advocacy and implementation of a legislative agenda to improve the lives of women and families. While there, she spearheaded a fifty-bill agenda to balance work and family, which included the nation's first Family and Medical Leave Act. This model legislation served as the prototype for the landmark federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

A member of the Democratic Town Committee, Gail was elected to the East Hampton Board of Education in 1991, and starting in 1995 served as Chair. She maintained that position until she was sworn into the General Assembly in 1999.

While serving as State Representative, Gail steered legislation that ordered the repeal of the sales tax on caskets and sponsored a bill which created a statewide information telephone hotline for water quality issues. In 2004, she co-sponsored legislation that ensured that high power electrical transmission lines around schools, childcare centers and youth camps be placed underground.

Gail was a champion for youth in crisis. Included in legislation that she helped pass was an act that amended the definition of child to include 16 and 17 year olds; an act that required police to search for runaways; an act which prevents the detention of children age 13 to 16 for non-delinquent acts; and an act to prevent girls from being placed at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. She also spearheaded the development of a state comprehensive plan to provide services for adolescent female juvenile offenders.

When asked recently which legislation she was most proud of, she named the codification of Roe v. Wade, thereby protecting women's reproductive rights in Connecticut should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn its 1973 decision.

Gail, with her husband, was actively engaged in the Rotary, on the local, district and international level. As part of the Rotary's polio eradication initiative, Gail and Alan spent Thanksgiving of 2006 in Niger, immunizing children. Their Thanksgiving dinner consisted of granola bars.

Early in her career, Gail was named Norwalk Woman of the Year in 1986 by the Norwalk Chapter of the Federation of Business and Professional Women. In 2013 she was named Citizen of the Year by the East Hampton Village Lions Club and was honored at the Lions Clubs International Humanitarian Awards Program for Eastern Connecticut.

In addition to her legislative work and her community volunteering, Gail was an attorney in private practice since 1979. She was a partner in the Law Offices of Friel & Hamm until she retired due to health issues.

Besides her husband, she is also survived by her sister, Julianne Hamm of Limerick, PA; her brother Marc Hamm of Hillsdale, MI: her sister Kim Hinson, also of Hillsdale; and her sister-in-law Lee Lyons of Litchfield, CT. She also is survived by her nieces, Megan Hinson and Heather Johnson, and her nephew Joshua Hinson.

Gail's family would like to express their sincere appreciation to Anthony Razel, who provided daily help, friendship and spiritual support to Gail as she faced her health crisis and the caring staff at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center.

The family will receive friends on Saturday Nov. 2nd from 3PM until 6PM at the Spencer Funeral Home 112 Main St. East Hampton. A memorial service will be held Monday Nov. 4th at 10:30 AM in Bethlehem Lutheran Church in East Hampton. Burial will be at the convenience of the family in Hillside Cemetery in Wilton.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Gail K. Hamm Leadership Development Scholarship c/o East Hampton Rotary Foundation P.O. Box 197, Cobalt, CT 06414 or to the Rotary Peace Fellow Program c/o Rotary Foundation P.O. Box 197 Cobalt, CT 06414.

To leave online condolences please visit www.spencerfuneralhomeinc.com.
Published in The Hillsdale Daily News on Oct. 25, 2013
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