Frederick Oliver
Hammond
VE3 H
Henry CCharlie

1912 - 1999

Eulogy given for Fred Hammond
November 11, 1999

delivered by Martin Rosenthal, VE3MR

Fred Hammond's name and call sign, VE3HC are respected and admired around the world. Perhaps Canada's best known amateur, because of his long and distinguished professional and amateur radio career.

Fred began building radios in 1923 at the age of 11 and became a radio amateur in 1929. A true promoter of amateur radio, and always ready with a smile and advise. Fred was the essence of the true amateur radio spirit, honorable, patient and knowledgeable.

Few other Canadian amateurs have contributed so much to the hobby. His generous support for worthy amateur radio causes is legend.

Here are just a few of Fred's many honors and achievements:

He founded the Guelph Amateur Radio Club in 1946; Was Radio Society of Ontario Amateur of the year in 1977; Received the ARRL certificate of Merit also in 1977; Honored by the CNIB Amateur Radio Club in 1978 for his assistance to the White Caners program by providing hundreds of prepunched cabinets for mounting special CNIB equipment; CRRL amateur of the year 1979; RAC Member of the Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of Fame 1997 and in May of this year was presented with a certificate from the QCWA for 70 years as a licenced radio amateur.

So where do I come into this picture. Fred claimed he knew me since I was knee high to a transistor.

My first recollection goes back to the fall of 1952. 1 was just out of high school and had entered our family business on a full time basis. Fred made regular visits to our store and would meet with my father discussing the sale of Hammond products.

It was a year later when I got my amateur radio licence that the common bond started. Parts of Ontario were still on 25 cycle current. Amateur equipment advertised in the USA functioned on 60 cycles and was a no go in Toronto without Hammond custom replacement transformers. Projects listed in the monthly radio magazines usually called up chassis and enclosure sizes that were not compatible with the Hammond catalogue of products. This was the start of Fred's direct generosity to me.

In later years, it became known as government jobs where miraculously no company paperwork was ever generated. Fred already had his own X-files. I often wondered how these invisible projects might have affected the bottom line when Hammond published their yearly financial reports.

Fred did have one problem though, he could never say no. That was his nature. I am sure there are many here today who have called on Fred for assistance in the past. He was a very gracious benefactor to the world wide Ham community. From supplying WI AW new station racks to custom designed cabinets for VK3AMH and VK3HW in Australia.

He did not know the meaning of the word 'one'. On most occasions with my requests I would reiterate to him time and time again, one Fred - only one. When my customized piece was received there would usually be two. When questioned Fred shrugged his shoulders and simply said, it will save me doing it for you again. He was uncanny in this regard and I must admit on many occasions I did require the second unit.

The design for our home station called for 5 rack cabinets. Six were delivered.

I explained there was only room for 5 units. If I used the 6th, I wouldn't be able to access the back of the cabinets. Not to worry he said and took it back. Fred never threw out anything and was always a good source of supply for obsolete components.

Bill, Rob somewhere in one of your factories for the last 20 years sits a special custom cabinet with a special paint finish and thanks but no thanks, I still can't use it.

Over the years I have verbally thanked Fred for his time and efforts on my behalf. On November 14, 1997 1 got the urge to put it in writing. I will read this now and it best describes the feelings I had for Fred:

Hi Fred.-

This note is long overdue.

The enclosed are small tokens of my appreciation not only for your recent assistance with the radio station move but also for your endless past favours.

You are a unique person. A one of a kind I truly value our very special relationship over these many years. I want you to know the many projects you have done for me directly or indirectly, have never been taken for granted

I have been told that it is a very fortunate individual who can count his close friends on one hand during his lifetime. You certainly fall into this category for me and I am proud to have been linked with you over these many decades.

Business is business, pleasure is pleasure and we have been able to successfully combine both into a friendship that I prize dearly.

Both Truus and I wish you many more years of good health and happiness.

73."

Fred was not a gourmet eater, when he found a product he liked he stuck with it. So it was for many years that in late August or early September, he would load up his vehicle with ripe Niagara peaches and take off to barter for his favourite honey. It was only a trip of 1700 km. each way. That's product loyalty.

In 1983 Fred and Tom Wong, VE7BC were invited to China to be the first foreigners to operate the new club station in Beijing

BYIPK. This culminated a 10 year project where Fred was the kingpin in supplying a good portion of the required equipment to put China back on the amateur radio bands. There had been no activity from there since 1948.

Fred was not a world traveler as such, except of course via short wave radio. He would take trips but these were usually by his car or van. So when he accepted the invitation from the Chinese government, this raised a lot of eyebrows. Fred as I said before was a simple eater and was concerned about a possible lack of familiar foods in China. So in order to protect his well being he made sure that he had a small travel case for clothing and a large suitcase to take an ample supply of corn flakes, digestive biscuits, assorted chocolate bars and Coca-Cola. Quite a combination. Can you ever imagine pouring Coke over corn flakes.

Fred was very modest when it came to recognition. He preferred to be that anonymous face in the crowd. He did relent a little and on October 27, 1984 - a Fred Hammond appreciation dinner was convened at San Giovanni's Banquet Hall in Guelph. The room was packed to capacity. Speeches from government officials and many ham friends made it a fun evening and one to be fondly remembered.

Fred suffered a severe stroke on June 21, 1998. It was a major shock for all concerned. The doctors stated that a stroke of this magnitude is usually fatal in 99 out of 100 cases. But Fred was a fighter and over the next 17 months there was a steady flow of hospital visits by the family and friends to help ease his pain, discomfort and frustrations.

A website was established with updates of Fred's activities and condition. A local band was reunited aptly called the Ham Band lead by Rocco, VE3YJ and accompanied by John, VE3AMZ, Rich VE3DCC, Jerry VE3DYY, Emerick VA3EM, and Larry Best from the factory. Fred, the nurses and other patients enjoyed the eight performances that were given at the hospital. OK, guys when can we expect your first CD to be released.

There was something about our visits. For some reason, our appearance always seemed to kick start his reflexes. Each visit started with a 15 minute firm handshake, followed by our long standing but friendly disagreement as to who was No. 1. Then there was always that twinkle in his eyes and a wide grin when he saw Truus. I know he looked forward to receiving her arriving and departing kisses.

Besides good memories, Fred has left us all an invaluable legacy " The Hammond Museum of Radio".

From a humble beginning in the back shed of his house on College Ave. West, a collection of radio memorabilia got started. Over the years, it grew and grew. With the walls bulging at the seams, it was decided to relocate to a large room in the small transformer plant. For a time this alleviated the space problem. But Fred was always looking for new additions, his collecting reputation brought many unsolicited items. He would spend numerous hours on each radio refinishing the wood case and then making the necessary repairs so that it worked. This goes for all the items on display.

The word world class is very appropriate for this unusual display. Recently the complete collection was moved into a much larger space in the Southgate plant. Great efforts were made to catalogue every item for the first time and to reorganize the display areas to encompass different eras of broadcasting history. Items on exhibit start from the early 1900's onward. Fred was given a tour prior to the museum reopening and notwithstanding his eagle eye for perfection, he was only able to spot a few pieces out of sequence. Once these units were repositioned, he gave his full approval. He had over the years accumulated one of the finest radio collections in North America. It's simply a must see.

Fred has now joined the ranks of other silent keys. Out there somewhere, he is being received with open arms by those friends who have preceded him. He's in good company. However, this leaves me wondering as to how he's going to handle the government jobs this time around.

It's the good things in life that should be remembered and with Fred it was all good, super good. He will be sorely missed by many.

For the Hammond families there has been much tragedy in their lives in recent times. With all of them in mind I would like to repeat the words that are engraved on my parents gravestone "There is a link death cannot sever, love and remembrance last forever".

 

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