Paul D. Hamm, 86, of Elizabethtown, died Thursday, April 10, 2014, at his residence.
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He was born on June 10, 1927, in Bettendorf, Iowa, where his father, Chester Bryan Hamm, worked for a time at John Deere. But, the Great Depression hit the U.S. and his father lost his job. As many people of his generation, his parents had to move back to the farm with his grandparents. That was a seminal point in his life. Farming was in Paul's blood.
He served in the U.S. Army Air Force from 1945 to 1947. He enlisted after most of the war was over, thanks to his mother's (Nellie Cave Hamm) interven-tion. He had tried to join earlier during the height of the war right after high school, but he was too young as he graduated early. His mother sent in his birth certificate for good measure of proof to the recruiters and said, "He can't go yet." Now, that was a good idea, as when he did join later, he was sent on what he called a "Caribbean tour." He served in Nicaragua. Turks & Caicos, Trinidad and Panama primarily as an air-traffic controller who sometimes had to do KP.
The second seminal juncture of Paul's life: Paul met Elizabeth at the University of Kentucky. He was finishing up his BA at the time on the GI Bill. He saw her coming into the classroom that he was leaving. Just one look and he knew - he literally returned to UK to get his Master's in Agriculture to get a chance to catch Elizabeth to be his wife. It took some work to catch her, but Paul and Elizabeth were soul-mates in their marriage. They believed in faith, family and farming. Paul and Elizabeth settled on First Baptist Church of Hodgenville where Paul served as a deacon and Sunday school teacher. Being active in the community and church was vital to them. But being a farmer, Paul much appreciated God's natural beauty in a glorious dawn, a panoramic sunset, flashy thunderstorm, fresh snow, or the birth of a new calf, the sprouting of a planted field, or the bounty of a harvest. Especially the bounty of the harvest as that was what he worked so hard to achieve. Paul believed that tending God's earth kept one close to God. Paul and Elizabeth became respected burley tobacco, corn and soybean producers andcattle ranchers with a farm acreage over 1,000 acres. They started with 50 acres, now that is not a bad return.
Paul D. Hamm is survived by his wife of 63 years, Elizabeth Baker Hamm, four children, 10 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren: Nellie E. Owen of Owensboro (Paul Owen, grandsons David Allen Owen and Andrew Lowell Owen); John B. Hamm of Louisville (Jackie Hamm, grandchildren Timothy Hamm, John Alan Hamm, Mary Elizabeth Boston and Chris Priddy; great-grandchildren Lily Marie Hamm, Morgan Elizabeth and Laina Caroline Boston and Foster Louis Priddy); Vera Beth Priddy of Glendale (Matthew Priddy, grandchildren Wesley Paul Priddy, Philip Priddy, Rachel Priddy and Caleb Priddy; great-grandchildren Mallory Grace and Charles Weston Priddy); and Paula Hamm Stearns (Gary M. Stearns). He also is survived by his two sisters, Florence Lee Samples of Burlington (Houston Samples) and Vera Edith Mackey of Elizabethtown (Herbert Mackey). He will forever live in our hearts.
Paul was very unhappy about eminent domain being used for potential economic development taking a major portion of his farm in the Glendale area of Hardin County in 2002. A farmer selling really productive land is not easy - not easy at all. Highly productive land is in limited amounts, especially in a close location to other family. Farming is undoubtedly a family operation often sharing machinery and labor. However, the writing was on the wall and it was only eased for many in the Glendale farming community because most of the affected farmers were beyond retirement age and could use some much deserved rest. But, it hurt them deeply to severe the farming community bonds that they so happily lived within for years.
Paul and Elizabeth had to move due to the land acquisition, but they very fortunately only had to move into what was his grandfather's home - the old family home on the Dixie - his son had renovated it nicely. In a way, it was coming full circle for Paul as that was his childhood home. This was where he purposefully ran through his aunt's sweeping, he most certainly teased his younger sisters, and where he raised geese and chickens to sell eggs as his first childhood farming project, where he always cautioned of Ghost Bruno - the builder of that old home who is buried in the cemetery across the road, the home where much tobacco stripping went on in the garage, the home of extended family gatherings and the home he brought Elizabeth to when they first married in 1951. Full circle in duality - back to the childhood home and back to place of bliss of beginning married life once again at the ending of life. And at last, returning to His Blessed Savior's arms to the peace and joy of everlastin g life
The funeral is at 2 p.m. Sunday at Brown Funeral Home with Rev. Nathan Thomas "Chip" Dennison officiating. Burial follows in Glendale Christian Cemetery.
Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday and continues after noon Sunday at the funeral home.
Brown Funeral Home
306 College Street
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Published in The News-Enterprise on Apr. 13, 2014