Front page: Donor of original Texas property succumbs at 81

GLADEWATER, Texas--Buck Hammer, who in 1953 donated the original 20-25 acres of property that became the core of the Ambassador College campus near Big Sandy, died in a Longview, Texas, hospital early Saturday, Nov. 15, after a heart attack.

Mr. Hammer, 81, had complained on Friday of feeling ill. Later, at the residence of son and daughter-in-law Scott and Terrie Hammer of Gladewater, his condition worsened, so Scott called an ambulance.

Mr. Hammer died shortly after midnight in a Longview hospital.

Mr. Hammer, along with Scott, was a founder and owner of the Vital Earth Resources and Carl Pool companies, based in Gladewater. Vital Earth Resources operates the "digester," the huge metal cylinder once owned by the Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador College that processes organic waste and other materials into fertilizer and soil conditioners.

Mr. Hammer had served as an elder in the Radio/Worldwide Church of God and, more recently, the United Church of God. For several years during the operation of Ambassador College, he was its director of buildings and grounds. He was one of the WCG's first deacons, ordained in the 1950s.

"Buck was friendly to all and as a result had many, many friends," said his brother-in-law, David Antion of Pasadena, Calif.

"He was fair in his dealings and honest in his practices. He never beat around the bush, and when he had something to say to a person he said it straight out. He could say things to people in authority that most people would never dare say, and they still loved him and didn't take offense." He was "one of the stalwarts in the Church of God, and he will be sorely missed. Another era has passed with his passing."

Over the years Mr. Hammer, born in Kiefer, Okla., in 1922, had operated several businesses in the Big Sandy area, including a skating rink and several barbecue restaurants.

He is survived by two sons, Scott Hammer and Kerry Buck Hammer of Gladewater, and four daughters, Toni Cox and Barbara Husbands of Las Vegas, Nev., Becky Simpson of Longview, and Robin Johnson of Lake Arrowhead, Calif.; a brother, John David "Tony" Hammer of Dallas, Texas; and three sisters, Shirley Armstrong of Bullard, Texas, Jackie Carnes of Tyler, Texas, and Molly Antion of Pasadena.

Funeral services were Nov. 18 at a funeral home in Gladewater, with Ken Giese of Houston, Texas, officiating. Burial was in Gladewater Memorial Park, between Gladewater and Big Sandy, where two months earlier Mr. Hammer's brother-in-law, Garner Ted Armstrong, was laid to rest.

After the service was a memorial meal in the building owned by the Church of God Big Sandy.

The Hammer family receives mail at P.O. Box 401, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A. Memorials in Mr. Hammer's honor may be made to the United Church of God East Texas Building Fund at the same address.

For recent JOURNAL articles that include interviews with Mr. Hammer, see "Feasts in Oregon and East Texas Set Pace for Early RCG," Aug. 30, 2002, and "Third Ambassador Campus Came to Big Sandy, Texas, in 1964," Sept. 30, 2002.

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