Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Dale Hammond remembered for adventurous spirit

Written by: 
Emmalee Smith & Josh Mason

Dale Alden Hammond passed away at age 84 on Dec. 1, 2017. Funeral services were held on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Laie Hawaii North Stake center.

According to his granddaughter Alyssa Woo, a BYUH alumna, Hammond’s health started to decline since around August. “He has always had problems with … heart murmurs.” She said the doctors did surgery to repair his mitral valve in October after finding out he had a leaky valve, but Hammond had trouble recovering because he also had a stomach ulcer that caused him pain when he ate.

Born in Rexburg, Idaho on April 18, 1933, Dale grew up as an adventurous boy who loved snow and water skiing. He performed in a water skiing performance with his family every summer at a carnival in Idaho Falls.

As a child, he helped his father with his piano business, boat sales, a repair business, and a chinchilla farm. He loved to participate in plays, basketball, tumbling and trampoline, and he played the harmonica, piano, and bassoon.

He also loved hiking growing up. Valentine said, “He spent many years hiking the Teton Mountains and called them his backyard.” He went on to hike the Great Wall of China as well as mountains in Hawaii, Utah, Washington, and more.

He went to Rick’s College in Rexburg Idaho and then served a mission in Denmark from 1951-1953. Valentine said, “For someone with a love of travel, the world, and his Savior, this was a welcome adventure.” After his mission, he attended BYU at Provo and graduated in 1958 with a degree in chemistry.

He got married to Carol Young on June 4, 1959 and went on his honeymoon to Hawaii, where he accepted a one-year position to start a chemistry program at BYU-Hawaii, then called the Church College of Hawaii.

Valentine said, “Fifty-eight years later he was still honeymooning with his sweetheart in Laie when he passed away.” Dale and Carol Hammond had 8 children, 20 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

An Oct. 3, 1996 Ke Alaka‘i newspaper on display at the funeral highlighted when Hammond used to ring the bells heard on campus twice a day, everyday. He’s quoted as saying, “‘You can call me Quasimodo.’” He rang the bells in a small room in the Aloha Center for over 20 years.

Hammond loved chemistry and geology and was offered a position to study moon rocks for NASA, but he turned it down to continue working at BYUH. He was president of the Hawaii Local Section of the American Chemical Society.

Chemical he was awarded Phi Kappa Phi and participated in the Science Academy, an organization to tutor and help local kids with science. He also assisted in the science program in local schools and was a science fair judge.

For almost 30 years, Hammond and Phil Bruner, another science professor, took students on field trips to hike volcanoes in Hawaii. His last hike with the students was May of this year.

Dorian Hammond, Dale’s son, said he had many people come up to him and tell him, “I had this class with your dad and I had that class with your dad, and he was the best teacher ever. It was a source of pride for me to know he touched so many lives and they were thankful for that.”

He said there was one instance where someone came up to him and said, “‘I had your dad for a ballroom dancing class.’ And I was like what? … I was thinking he must be thinking of someone else. So when I got home, I asked my mom, ‘Mom, did dad ever teach a ballroom dance class?’ And she was like ‘yeah!’”

With many different interests, Hammond not only taught science, but also taught classes in tumbling and trampoline, photography, Pacific Island natural history, folk dancing, and the Book of Mormon.

Dale was good at repairing and building, and he even built a house for his family in 1978 with some help from his children and wife. In the later years of his life, he was developing an app to help prepare people for the SAT and ACT by teaching them Latin word roots.

On display at the funeral was a paper written by his children about Dale’s life. It says, “Of all the many, many interesting talents he developed and things he did in his life the most important to him was serving the Lord faithfully and humbly. From the smallest of callings to his beloved office of patriarch, he served to the end!”

He served as a seminary teacher, bishop, ward and stake executive secretary, secretary to the regional representative, and most recently the patriarch for the Laie North Stake for 10 years.

After retiring, Dale audited and took classes “for fun,” said Woo, such as entrepreneurship classes to help him develop his app. He also helped some of the science classes, including Dr. Bruner’s geology class, which he went on a backpacking trip to the Big Island with earlier this year.

Bishop Christopher Beard said, “I’m grateful for our wonderful patriarch and for the blessing he’s been to over 526 members of our stake over the past 10 years of his service.”

Bishop Beard recounted a memory from about two weeks ago in November when Carol Hammond called asking for a blessing. He said, “He held my hand so very tight and said, ‘I need to strengthen my relationship with my Savior.’ And I just smiled and said, ‘Patriarch, thank you so very much for your wonderful example.’”

Hammond’s daughter Laurie Mitchell said just two days before her dad died, he had returned home from the hospital and was sleeping. Suddenly, he woke up, put his fist in the air, and said, “‘Up in away! I’m on to a new adventure!’”

Date Published: 
Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Last Edited: 
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

NOTE: This article's online publication was delayed because of technical difficulties with the Ke Alaka'i website. We apologize for the inconvenience.