Obituary: William Hammon, MD
May 26, 1930 – November 17, 2020
DR. WILLIAM MUNGUNGA HAMMON, MD
1930 – 2020
“Dr. Bill”, as his friends called him, was born in the Belgian Congo where his parents were serving as medical missionaries. Guess it was written in the stars that he should follow in his father’s footsteps and become a physician when the village people insisted that his middle name be Mungunga, doctor in Swahili.
After his dad graduated from Harvard Medical School (with a baby in tow), Bill grew up in San Francisco while his dad traveled the world with the World Health Organization. Bill attended Pomona College where he had spent a lot of time skiing, surfing and playing beach volleyball in between his studies, and after graduation, entered the University of Rochester School of Medicine. Upon completing his medical education, he eventually joined the Army and did a neurosurgical residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center under Ludwig Kemp. Along the way Bill and his first wife, Connie, had 4 wonderful children. After a tour of duty in Germany, Bill returned to Walter Reed where he served as Assistant Chief of Neurosurgery. Teaching was one of Bill’s outstanding skills, whether it was with his residents or his patients. He was known for his calm demeanor and his skill and speed in the operating room. In 1968 Bill was assigned to the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Bien, Vietnam where he served as chief of Neurosurgery and then Hospital Commander. After another tour at Walter Reed, Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii was next on the list in 1972.
Bill and Pat (who were married in 1971) loved Hawaii so much that when he retired from the Army after 22 years and was invited to join the Straub Clinic and Hospital in Honolulu, they jumped at the chance. Bill and Pat both worked hard and played hard in Hawaii. Tennis, surfing, racketball and sailboat racing filled their off time and they made many meaningful friendships. Dear friends introduced them to Vail and the brand-new resort, Beaver Creek. Bill had pretty bad knees from years of athletics and had thought he would never ski again. But at the encouragement of friends, he got a fancy knee brace and took up skiing again to his great delight. So trips to Colorado were top of the list for vacations. Bill’s children visited often. Work was rewarding and satisfying, and life was meaningful and fun.
When real retirement beckoned, Bill and Pat had no second thoughts: Colorado was it (especially since they had discovered the wonders of summers there). They renovated an old log barn on the top of Bellyache and loved every minute of life in the woods with amazing views, lots of wildlife and endless amounts of snow. Bill would look out the upper story window with the telescope and say “Hey, they just groomed Red Tail – let’s go!!”. Tennis and skiing were still on the list (especially after Bill got two new knees) and they enjoyed years of wonderful friendships and activities at the Beaver Creek Club and the Arrowhead Club. Ski trip visits were family favorites and all the grandkids loved ski school at Beaver Creek. From Colorado, Bill and Pat enjoyed many trips abroad, especially if they involved music. Denver often was a draw and they regularly attended Colorado Symphony concerts and the opera (which was a special favorite of Bill’s – even traveling nationally to attend opera performances.) and, of course, they were huge fans of Bravo and attended most every concert having learned how to line up early at the gate and sprint for a good seat on the lawn.
When living at high altitude at 9,500 on Bellyache became a problem for Bill, they moved 3,000 feet down to Eagle and have loved living there. Their home in Eby Creek Mesa had wonderful views and a log staircase – so they felt very at home. Bill eventually became a frequent visitor at the Eagle Senior Center where he loved the exercise classes and the camaraderie at lunch. Additionally, he loved his pilates sessions with Darcie and his neck massage sessions with Vanda. Life was good and blessed and he was grateful.
Bill passed into his next adventure on November 17th at Valley View Hospital with his wife Pat at his side, where the care and support was exemplary. He leaves behind his wife Pat, and daughter Pam and son Steve both of whom live in California. Bill is pre-deceased by his first son, Clark. Services will be held at a later time due to COVID.
Bill loved the Freedom Park Memorial in Edwards where he has a plaque dedicated to his staff at the 24th Evac in Vietnam. He especially enjoyed all the ceremonies there and would salute the flag whenever they drove by. A new vertical wall is needed at the memorial to protect the plaques to keep them out of the elements. Donations toward that project would make Bill very pleased. Donations can be sent to Freedom Park Memorial Committee, c/o Pat Hammon, P.O.Box 2260, Eagle, Colorado, 81631
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