Hammond—Eleanor Cecile Rothe Hammond, 94, on April 30, 2016, in Round Rock, Tex. Eleanor was born on January 22, 1922, in Brooklyn, N.Y., the only child of Frieda Schuster and Alexander M. Rothe. She grew up in Lynbrook, N.Y., spending days on New York beaches with her parents and developing a lifelong love of the sun and water. She enrolled in State University of New York at Albany (then Albany State College) in 1939, but in 1943 left school briefly to earn more money for college and to marry her high school sweetheart, Lester Harford Hammond Jr., known as Harvey. Afterward she graduated from Albany State with a bachelor’s in education.
In the summer of 1952, after living briefly in Indianapolis, Ind., she and Harvey moved for his work to Garland, Tex., outside Dallas. She and Harvey became foster parents in 1957, specializing in children with special needs. Foster twins Pat and Mike Jackson, who still refer to Eleanor as “Other Mother,” were eventually adopted by friends of theirs. Eleanor became the Garland “Learn to Swim” Water Safety Coordinator for the American Red Cross in 1957. Later, she coordinated adult swim classes at Richland College in Dallas and received a Red Cross 40-year service award.
In the late 1950s she gave regularly to Quaker peace groups, took part in Quaker study tours, and sojourned at Pendle Hill Quaker study center in Wallingford, Pa. In 1963, as president of the United Church Women of Garland, she led the group to pass a resolution calling for Garland churches to open their doors to all races. She advocated for school desegregation and took part in an effort to stop the practice of giving all-black schools the used textbooks from the all-white-schools. She earned a master’s in education from North Texas State University in the 1960s and taught high school math and special education classes in Forney, Tex., for several years.
Harvey passed away in 1982, and she moved every three to five of the next 30 years, looking for her next adventure. Outside Elgin, Tex., she lived in an old house trailer while helping two friends establish the Down Home Ranch, for persons with intellectual disabilities to live and work. For five years she and other Quakers from Hill Country Meeting in Kerrville, Tex., experimented in sustainable housing, an article about which appeared in the January 1999 Friends Journal. At 78, she helped build straw bale and adobe structures, including her own one-room house.
Her granny square afghans, often in colors significant to the recipient, are in hundreds of homes. She was famous for her crocheted “kiss” boxes and Christmas ornaments. She loved being a grandma, caring for several grandchildren while their parents worked and well into her eighties traveling across Texas and the United States to attend the births, graduations, and weddings of her grandchildren. She swam every day she could, and even in her last days, you knew you would find her sitting out in the sun.
Eleanor is survived by her five children, Lester Harford Hammond III (Ann), Robert Alexander Hammond (Claudia), Richard Perry Hammond (Lura), Lora Hammond Weber (Jay), and Nancy Hammond Adams (David); 12 grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren; and a legion of friends and admirers all over the country and at Touch of Home in Round Rock, Tex., where she lived the last three years, her family grateful for the care the staff showed her. Contributions in Eleanor’s honor may be made to Friends Meeting of Austin (austinquakers.org) or to Down Home Ranch in Elgin, Tex. (downhomeranch.org).