Hal Morris Hammel, 100, Rochester, passed away at 3:15 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, at Life Care Center of Rochester.
He was born on July 25, 1917, to William Henry and Lura Leona (Logan) Hammel in Elkhart. A few years later, the family moved to a 40-acre farm west of Warsaw, along the Tippecanoe River. Hal learned about hard work and the rewards from it from helping with gardening, raising chickens and transforming young ducks into cash while attending school at Harrison Center Grade School and Atwood High School. He played school sports and served as class president to quickly learn leadership.
In the early 1940s, he married Pauline Erny, who was the mother of Hal’s sons, William Hal and Jon Melvin, and daughter Loretta Ann. Pauline preceded Hal in death in 1960. In 1961, Hal married Lois E. Hale; and later another son, Michael D. Hammel, was born.
After graduating from high school in 1935, he worked at the Dalton Foundry in Warsaw and showed excellence in work skills. Later he worked for the Erie Lackawanna Railway, moved to Rochester and gained skills that allowed him a 27-year career completed as signal maintenance foreman from Huntington west to Chicago, Ill.
In 1963, sensing that the railroad was in financial difficulty, he took a leave of absence and originated a Chrysler Plymouth auto dealership that later encompassed GMC and still later Dodge and Jeep products. His vision was aimed at providing any service the buyer might need including rentals, leases and body shop work. Hammel Motors served Rochester for 35 years until 1998 when he was 80 years old. He had enjoyed having his family work with him for varying lengths of time. It grieved him to sell out his life’s work, but the move allowed him several years with less responsibility to enjoy his family and spend winters in Sebring, Fla.
During his years in Rochester, Hal was very active at the First Christian Church, serving in many capacities. He was a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club, having served as club president, and was on the Board of Directors for Woodlawn Hospital during the time the current Woodlawn Hospital was planned. In spite of some community concern about the hospital location and the need for such an expenditure, the Woodlawn Board decision led to a better future for Rochester’s medical care. He also was a 75-year member of the Masonic Lodge.
Survivors include his wife, Lois E. Hammel, Rochester; three sons, William Hal Hammel, Rochester, Jon Melvin and wife Teresa Hammel, Rochester, and Michael David Hammel, Rochester; daughter Loretta Ann and husband Tom Blessing, Syracuse; nine grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
His funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, at the First Christian Church, Rochester. Friends may visit from 2-6 p.m. Sunday at Zimmerman Bros. Funeral Home, Rochester, and one hour prior to the service Monday at the church. Masonic services will be conducted at 6 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home. Burial will be in Odd Fellows Cemetery, Rochester.
Memorial contributions may be made to the First Christian Church or the Masonic Lodge. Online condolences may be expressed at www.zimmermanbrosfh.com.