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Romulus M. Hammond II

1940 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Romulus M. Hammond II Obituary
Romulus M. Hammond, II

Memphis, tn

We are saddened to report this is not fake news. Romulus Morgan Hammond III passed away peacefully at his home the night of July 11, 2017.

Rommy was born an only child on October 3, 1940 to Mr. and Mrs. R.M. "Buster" Hammond, Jr.

He attended St. Anne's Elementary on Highland, Christian Brothers High School on the Parkway, and the University of Mississippi.

Following a short term in the Army, Rommy returned home in the early sixties to follow in his dad's footsteps and opened Sterick Liquors in downtown Memphis, after proudly borrowing fifty thousand dollars from Pitt Hyde, Sr. on a handshake.

Originally established by his father Buster on South Bellevue in 1954, Buster's Liquors was popular to those in South Memphis and North Mississippi, where alcohol sales were prohibited. By 1970 after seeing a trend with the city's growth to the suburbs, Rommy and Buster closed their respective stores to open up shop together venturing "way out" east to its present day location at Poplar and Highland.

"One of these days, I'm gonna have the largest liquor store in Memphis!" Rommy said those words when Buster's was just a two-man operation with his dad. And he wasn't kidding.

Selling mostly liquor at the time, Rommy saw an un-met demand for wine and he welcomed to carry any label his suppliers would bring him. This is why Rommy trademarked the slogan, "If we don't have it, you don't need it!" Rommy not only built the largest wine shop in Memphis, but in Tennessee as well. Today, Buster's is even larger than he ever expected, becoming a landmark destination for wine and spirits enthusiasts throughout the Mid-South. Rommy eventually passed the torch to his children, so he may enjoy a much deserved round of golf in fair weather.

Rommy was known for his promotions in those early years as he supported the Great Wine Race in its infancy, passed out Buster's T-Shirts during halftime U of M basketball games in the Coliseum, had a photo op with a live elephant in the store parking lot, and even flew banners over Destin beaches welcoming Memphians "From Your Friends at Buster's, Memphis TN".

In 1989, he was recognized as a "Top Ten Retailer" by Market Watch Magazine, a sister publication of The Wine Spectator. He was doubly proud when his two sons received the same recognition in 2001. He was a founding member of the (TWSRA) Tennessee Wine & Spirits Retail Association and a big supporter of small business and shop local campaigns.

Rommy was a fierce competitor on every level and excelled in sports as well, showing exuberance no matter whether it was baseball, bowling, tennis, or golf. He pitched to fellow teammate, catcher, and legendary announcer Tim McCarver in high school; posted a near perfect score in competitive bowling; and played with Jennifer Capriati in an exhibition match at the US Indoor Tennis Tournament, where he introduced an oversized 5 foot racquet to evoke laughter after missing an easy volley. Rommy enjoyed tennis for years at Stonebridge Country Club, The Wimbledon Center, and The Racquet Club. In his later years, he turned to golf with his friends on sunny days at Germantown Country Club, which respectfully hung the flag half-mast in his honor. And just recently was so proud to shoot his age on several occasions.

He loved supporting U of M Basketball and was recognized as the University's #1 Fan, to which he promptly shifted praise to a deserving disabled person in attendance. And the family's most recent venture with the Magic Light Wand would have never materialized without Rommy's support of the Playhouse on the Square and his participation in Fat Cat Follies, where he often dressed in drag. The wand was a prop from one of his characters that made its way into the household before Gay, years later, created the concept by putting the magic back into lighting the Christmas tree to entertain her grandchildren.

He proudly shared his political views and voiced his concerns through numerous letters to the CA. And while he was often highly respected for his views, he welcomed you to change the subject, but not his opinion.

Rommy always found a way to say "yes" to those in need with his generosity working with countless charity events and on a personal level to his friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. In the last five years, he enjoyed his service and giving his advice to newly engaged couples through a marriage prep course at St. Louis Church. On that note, Rommy was so proud of the many marriages, seventeen in all, that blossomed from the store's employees.

Rommy loved art, music, reading, sports, Church, family, and always a good joke! Whether he was springing fur pelts on customers from his Mongoose trap box; or using his 'Sir Lord Rockbottom' accent to tell a joke; or scaring callers with his personalized answering machine messages of 'Mr. Two Fingers Vanelli' from Chicago; or using a quick quip to keep you on your toes - All said, Rommy clearly enjoyed to laugh, entertain, have fun, and be around family and friends at all times.

But above all, he loved his sweet wife of 50 years, Gay, whom he made smile each and every day whether she wanted to or not. His gift of gab and exceptional sense of humor was his gift to all who encountered him.

He leaves behind his wife, Gay; children, Morgan (Kristi), Ana, and Josh (Lindsey); four grandchildren, Bear, Nash, Sophia and Josh Jr.

Donations are welcomed to his cousin's charity at Rachel's Kids (of Rachel's Flower Shop).

Visitation is Friday, July 14, 5-7 p.m. at Memorial Park Funeral Home. Funeral is Saturday 10 a.m. at St Louis Church. Burial service will be private.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on July 14, 2017
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