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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Norman L. Hammitt, 1949-2011: Husband of tornado victim helped others

BY PAYTON WILLEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Norman L. Hammitt of Woodville, a caring family man whose wife, Kathleen, was one of seven victims of the deadly tornado that swept through Lake Township last year, died Sunday at the Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg. He was 62.

Mr. Hammitt died from pneumonia after treatment of vocal seizures that had been caused by a stroke, his daughter, Jennifer Hammitt, said.

He was interviewed by The Blade last month about the one-year anniversary of the June 5, 2010, tornado that took his wife, saying at the time: "It's a hard adjustment, but you just have to fall back on your faith."

The Hammits' daughter, Jennifer, said that her parents met while Christmas caroling at the United Methodist Church in Oregon.

They were in their 34th year of marriage when the storm took Mrs. Hammitt. Ms. Hammitt said she and her sister Amy were following in a separate car on State Rt. 795 behind their mother after leaving Bay Park Community Hospital, where the three of them were visiting Mr. Hammitt who had suffered a massive stroke.

The tornado swept through; a whirling cloud of debris engulfed both vehicles, leaving Mr. Hammitt's daughters unharmed, but killing Mrs. Hammitt.

Mr. Hammitt told The Blade during the interview that he was doing better, and was looking forward to the October wedding of his son, Adam Hammitt of Maumee.

Born in Tennessee to William and Zetta Tarr, Mr. Hammitt and his parents moved to Ohio to be closer to relatives.

Mr. Hammitt graduated from Waite High School and worked full time as a steam engineer for Brush Wellman in Elmore, Ohio.

But it had always been his dream to be a police officer, and before completing the police academy at Owens Community College, Mr. Hammitt spent time volunteering in the auxiliary department to gain experience.

After graduating from the academy, Mr. Hammitt became a part-time police officer for Woodville from 1993 to 2003. He was acting police chief for a time.

"It's something he always wanted to be," Ms. Hammitt said. "My father was really big into helping people. He got to help a lot of people through that job."

Tina Rowe, Mr. Hammitt's younger sister said he was always putting others before him.

"He was someone that we could always, always count on, even if it was difficult for him, he would still do it and we could count on him," Mrs. Rowe said.

Although Mr. Hammitt was 10 years older than Mrs. Rowe, she said he always involved his siblings in his life and made sure they felt included.

Mrs. Rowe said that he would even take his younger brothers and sisters on dates with him in high school so that they could go to the drive-in.

"His dates probably thought '... he's got all these kids with him,' but that's just how Norm was," Mrs. Rowe said.

Mr. Hammitt also loved going to Cedar Point, but with a house full of children, his parents weren't easily able to take them all, Mrs. Rowe said.

Because Mr. Hammitt and his brother Jim were the two oldest in the family, they used a coffee can, covered it with aluminum foil, and put a slit in the plastic lid.

"Each time they would come home ... they'd throw some money in that coffee can, and we got to go to Cedar Point that year," Mrs. Rowe said.

Mr. Hammitt also participated in the American Legion Post 455 and was also an active church member of Woodville United Methodist Church.

Ms. Hammitt describes her father as very caring; if there was an event involving his children, Mr. Hammitt would try to be there, and if there was anyone he could help through just talking, he would try.

Mr. Hammitt enjoyed spending his spare time with friends and family and was an avid coin collector, favoring coins from the Civil War era.

Surviving are daughters, Jennifer and Amy Hammitt; son, Adam Hammitt; brothers, James Hammitt and Karl LaPoint, and sisters, Lisa LaPoint, Tina Rowe, and Angie Murphy.

Visitation will be 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Marsh Funeral Home, Woodville. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at the Woodville United Methodist Church, Woodville, with visitation an hour before the funeral.

The family suggests tributes to the Woodville United Methodist Church or Hospice of Northwest Ohio.

Contact Payton Willey at: paytonwilley@theblade.com or 419-724-6050



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