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F. C. Hammerness

F. C. Hammerness

Remembering F.C. Hammerness

A dear friend of the University of Colorado Denver School of Pharmacy and former faculty member, F.C. Hammerness, passed away October 21 at the age of 87. “Hamm”, as he was affectionately known, helped shape the School of Pharmacy to what it is today.

As many have attested, “Once you met Hamm, you never forgot him.” Despite retiring in 1987 after 30 years of service, he continued to have a lasting impression on the university, the pharmacy program and the students he taught.

And, sentiments published 22 years ago upon his retirement are still accurate today. “The School is somewhat quieter, the 2nd floor a little emptier, some sadder for his absence. Hamm has retired, but will not be forgotten by those who were the recipients of his knowledge, wisdom and true friendship and caring.” Read more about Hamm, his life and the people he influenced.

Dean Ralph Altiere


8/8/1922 – 10/21/2009

Hamm was the first of six children born to Carl and Gabrielle Hammerness of Glasgow, Montana. His mother was a French war bride so he was named Francis in honor of her homeland. When he was about five years old, his father had saved up enough money to send the family to France to visit. They booked steerage on a large steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Being a typical, curious five-year-old, Hamm managed to wander off from his family and began to explore the ship on his own. When his mother discovered him missing, she was in a panic and engaged the help from crew members to find him. While in France on the family farm, he managed to let the chocon (pig) out of its pen. His grand-père (grandfather) was not too happy with him and spoke sternly to him in French. Hamm was fluent in French until grade school when one day he subconsciously slipped into French to answer a question asked of him. The children in the class laughed at him and the teacher reprimanded him for not answering in English. He said he never spoke French again. His family lived on the edge of town and being the eldest, Hamm had numerous chores and responsibilities including taking care of the family cow, Lilly. By the time Hamm graduated from Glasgow High School in 1940, he had been a member of both the Montana National Guard, Company G, 163rd Infantry (1938-1940) and the Citizens Military Training Camp at Ft. Missoula (1939-1940). He was appointed Corporal in July 1940, receiving the award for best second year candidate. While attending the University of Montana, Missoula, Hamm joined the ROTC from 1940-1943.

During World War II, Hamm served in the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the 86th Infantry (Blackhawk) Division and became Platoon Leader in Cannon, Colorado and Battalion Motor Officer. He saw action in Europe and was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the East African and Middle East Campaign Ribbon with bronze star. With completion of Officer Candidate School (OCS), Hamm was commissioned Second Lieutenant (June 1944) and First Lieutenant (January 1945).

On January 1, 1946, Hamm married Shirley Larson in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They returned to the University of Montana where Hamm received his Bachelor of Science in 1947 and his Master of Science in 1951. The Hammernesses moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Hamm joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina. He taught pharmacy classes while working on his doctorate which he received in 1956. He was licensed to practice pharmacy in Montana, North Carolina, and Colorado.

In 1957, Boulder, Colorado, became home for Hamm and Shirley. Hamm was appointed Professor Pharmacy at the University of Colorado where he spent 30 years teaching and working with individual students. Those years were the highlight of his career. Both Hamm and Shirley took up golf and fishing. Summertime would find them traveling throughout the Western states in their Air Stream travel trailer accompanied by family members. In later years, they summered in Estes Park, Colorado, and visited California in the winter.

In May 1979, the Class of 1979 presented Hamm with the Outstanding Professor Award. But perhaps his most cherished recognition was the Distinguished Coloradan Award from the School of Pharmacy, University of Colorado which Hamm received in Boulder on May 25, 1990. A conference room was named in his honor when the new School of Pharmacy building at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, was dedicated in 1992.

After Hamm’s retirement, the Hammernesses moved to Clifton, Colorado for a few years, then settled permanently in Yuma, Arizona. They had been married 55 years when Shirley passed away on Christmas Day, 2001. To “keep young”, Hamm rode his bicycle daily and ran errands for Three Amigos Auto Repair in Yuma. He enjoyed classical music, advising those in difficult life situations, politics, and good food. Hamm was raised in the Lutheran Church and belonged to the BPOE (Elks). Both he and Shirley had been members of Boulder Country Club and Bookcliff Country Club.

Hamm was predeceased by his wife, Shirley; parents, Carl and Gabrielle; sisters, Vesta Hintz and Rose Ellen Kile; and brother, Philippe. He is survived by his brothers, Mark of Rio Rico, Arizona, and Rolland “Ole” of Borrego Springs, California, four sisters-in-law, and numerous nieces and nephews. Hamm’s indomitable spirit lives on as he left a lasting impression on all whose life he touched. No services are planned.