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John Austin Hammond Sr.

REFORM John Austin "Hap" Hammond Sr., age 93, of Reform, left this life Feb. 15, 2013, at Fayette Medical Center. Services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at Unity Grove United Methodist Church with Rev. Bobbye Hagler officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery with Skelton Funeral Home of Reform directing. Visitation will be Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. The body will lie in state one hour prior to services Saturday at the church.

He was preceded in death by his son, Jerry Wyatt Hammond; his parents; his brothers, Hawkins, Hubert, Wyatt, Fred, and James "Toby" Hammond; and his sister, Ruby Atkins.

Survivors include his wife of 75 years, Hilton Vice Hammond; his daughters, Linda Dickson and Ginger Boatwright (Buck Kuhn); his son, John Austin Hammond Jr.; his grandchildren, Danae Boatwright, Scott Dickson, and Mariel Milito (Dave); and his great-grandchildren, Spencer, Morgan, and Kendall Troutman, and Emma Milito.

Mr. Hammond was born February 20, 1919, in Palmetto, Alabama, the fourth of eight children born to the late Hilton H. Hammond and Tinnie Babb Hammond. He eloped with his high school sweetheart, Hilton Vice, on February 15, 1938. They shared 75 years together, playing music all over North America, traveling with their children, and loving their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Hap served his country during World War II in the U.S. Navy, assigned to the Seabees as a cook. He liked to tell people he got a Purple Heart when he sliced his finger peeling potatoes. He was bivouacked on Guadalcanal in 1944 and 1945. He sent pictures home to his family of him playing a guitar bought from a member of Bob Wills' band who was headed to the front. He was still picking that old guitar in 2013. His mother had five sons and a son-in-law on active duty during the war.

He attended Livingston College and, using his GI Bill, attended Jacksonville State and the University of Alabama, where he worked on his master's degree. He and Hilton moved to Rockford, Ala. and taught at Coosa County High School. Hap taught history and biology, teaching his students with a lot of humor and some stretched facts. He was also coach of all sports there and his teams never lost a game. The family moved to Birmingham in 1950 and Hap became a salesman for Sears farm store. His heart was always in Pickens County and he loved to demonstrate farm supplies. For fun, he was a professional basketball referee. He took an early retirement and he and Hilton built a home on the old family farm in Palmetto. She continued to teach school while he became a "gentleman farmer." He loved to raise cows, drive a tractor, grow vegetables, and pick the guitar. Most of all, he loved his wife and family!

Pallbearers will be Jimmy Massey, David Hammond, Chester James, Tommy Orr, Sonny Boler, Jeremiah Hammond, and Pat Irvin.

Honorary pallbearers are Harry Wilkins, Patrick Irvin, and friends of the Palmetto community.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Unity Grove United Methodist Church Building Fund.

Funeral Home

Skelton Funeral Home - Reform
2105 2nd St. SW  Reform, AL 35481
(205) 375-9661

Published in Tuscaloosa News on Feb. 20, 2013
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