Eventually the Hammers decided to drive to California and "check this man out." They visited the fledgling Ambassador College campus in 1950, en route
to keep the Feast of Tabernacles at Belknap Springs, Ore., the very first Feast site of the growing church.
Because of the Hammer family's
dedication (both Hammers were baptized by my father), and because they were in the center of the most responsive area to the broadcasts over the Mexican 200,000-watt radio stations, my father decided to investigate the possibility of a Feast site in
I had been discharged after four years' service from the Navy in May of 1952, and my father asked if I would do the driving
while he and my mother went to East Texas to visit the Hammer family and investigate the possibility of purchasing property there.
Eventually, after looking over many properties around Marshall, Longview and Gladewater, Buck Hammer suggested that
some undeveloped property he owned two miles east of Big Sandy might be interesting.
It was even more interesting when Buck graciously
decided to donate the property to the church!
Thus began the development of the church grounds near Big Sandy as a major festival site.
The annual Feast of Tabernacles had been held for many years in Belknap Springs, Ore., and this was the very first official Feast site
from the time my parents observed the Feast in their own home or with the little church group in Eugene, Ore.
In 1952 the Feast was
observed at a resort named Siegler Springs in Lake County, Calif., and the next year it was observed at our own new tabernacle building on the grounds in Big Sandy.
For many years my father mentioned Mrs. Pearl Hammer in his letters to the mailing list concerning festival reservations, telling those who needed help with accommodations to contact
Mrs. Hammer arranged reservations in motels and private homes for hundreds attending the feasts for many years, served in
the kitchen and with the elderly and children, and was a hard-working example to all.
Because of their loyalty, dedication, hard work and
outgoing concern for the brethren, Roy and Pearl were ordained by my father as deacon and deaconess.
After Mr. Hammer died Mrs. Hammer continued working with the elderly in the Big Sandy and Gladewater area, visiting widows and the sick. She was known for her
perky enthusiasm, quick wit and bright smile.
I never remember seeing her "down" or in a negative attitude. She was invariably cheerful,
willing to help and hard working. If there was something to do, she was up and doing it and was never one to seek leisure time.
mind began to fail, the three family members who lived closest to her, Buck, Jackie and Shirley, filled in to help her as they could.
several years Mrs. Hammer was cared for in her own home during the week by ladies who were hired to help her and on alternating weekends stayed with the Carneses (Guy and Jackie) or with us.
Eventually her condition required round-the-clock care, and she was moved into a nursing home in Tyler, where her children continued to give her supplementary care.
For the last two years of her life Jackie and my wife, Shirley, alternated in the mornings and evenings, sitting with her, feeding her
and caring for her.
Buck also contributed much, having moved in with his mother for about two years, then helping her on Sundays, giving
his sisters a day off.
On rare occasions, such as the Feast, when Shirley would travel with me, she arranged for a qualified aide to fill
in for her.
Many times I had to go to personal appearance campaigns or church visits without her because of her obligations toward her
mother. While it was very difficult for them because of distance and expensive air travel, the Antions (David and Molly) came to East Texas to see her from time to time as well.
Though Alzheimer's is a tragic disease, and it is
painful to see a loved one losing recognition, there are a few humorous things that occur along the way.
For example, on one occasion when
my son Mark and his son Michael stopped in to see "MawMaw" (the name given to her by her many grandchildren), she fixed Mark, who was wearing suit and tie, with an intense look and then, looking at Shirley, said, "He thinks he's a big
I guess it had been a long time since MawMaw had seen anyone in a suit and tie!
One day Shirley arrived in the early morning only to find that someone had moved her mother's chair too close to the bureau drawers next to her bed. Mrs. Hammer was sitting in the
midst of a number of items of clothing she had pulled out of the drawer and was rummaging around through it.
Shirley said, "My, my,
aren't we busy this morning!"
MawMaw looked up and said, "Yes, and we're not finished yet!"
For some years she had been telling us she needed to pack "and go to Oklahoma."
Awaiting the resurrection
In most-important ways we lost our little mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-grandmother when
her mind began to fade.
We know this kind of gradual, slow deterioration of the human mind is very, very commonformer president
Reagan's is the best known victim of Alzheimer's, and his birthday came just one day after Mrs. Hammer diednevertheless it is painful and sad to see a loved one losing the capability of recognizing her own family members.
We are thankful to God for His mercy and love toward our little MawMaw, thankful to know she is in a deep, painless and trouble-free sleep awaiting the
She was buried next to her beloved husband, Roy, in Gladewater Memorial Cemetery, between Gladewater and Big Sandy, on
Sunday, Feb. 9.
Article originally entitled Friends fondly remember Pearl Hammer written by Garner Ted Armstrong.
It appeared in
Issue 73 (Feb. 2003) of The Journal.