Garold Raymond “Gary” Hammond, 88, of Pendleton, a former longtime Baker High School coach and teacher, died April 26, 2008, at Pendleton.
Friends and former students are invited to join the family for a celebration of his life at 1 p.m. May 10 at the Baker Elks Lodge, 1896 Second St.
Gary was born on Aug. 28, 1919, at Spaulding, Idaho, to Owen and Hazel Hammond. He attended school at Pierce, Idaho, graduating in 1937. He attended the Lewiston State Normal School (now Lewis-Clark College) at Lewiston, Idaho.
Upon graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy. He was honorably discharged in December 1945, at Whidbey Island, Wash.
Shortly afterward, he married Frances O’Keefe on March 2, 1946, at Whidbey Island.
His first coaching experiences included basketball and baseball at Gig Harbor, Washington.
In the fall of 1946, Gary began his career in education, teaching social studies and again sharing his passion for coaching basketball at Genesee, Idaho. He led numerous teams to the Idaho state basketball tournaments, which at the time, included all categories and sizes of schools.
He was the coach of the state championship basketball team of 1951 as a Class B school at Genesee – the smallest category of high schools – beating Heyburn High School, a school in a larger classification.
Gary and his wife, Frances, moved to Pullman, Wash., in 1952, where he continued his classroom teaching and coaching careers. They remained at Pullman until they moved to Baker City in 1956.
While Gary was well-known for his teaching of government and civics classes, he was best known for his contributions to the basketball program at Baker High School. “Coach Hammond” was known as a strict disciplinarian, with all of his athletes required to conform to a “high and tight” crew cut as well as impeccable dress standards.
Coach Hammond was an icon throughout the region for his specific “slow-down” style of play on the basketball court. His court tactics earned his teams many wins over the years, resulting in a culmination of 532 victories. At one time, Gary was the winningest coach in the state of Oregon.
His most significant coaching accomplishments at Baker High School included a third-place finish in the Oregon state basketball tournament in 1966, coupled with a second-place finish in the 1972 state basketball championship, in one of the highest attended events at the Memorial Coliseum, losing to Jefferson High School. The Oregonian dubbed this team the “Cinderella team.”
While teaching at Baker High School, Gary was involved in the initial development of the basketball and tennis courts near the present site of the print shop.
Gary was instrumental in acquiring the bid for the State “B,” (now State 1A) Basketball tournament for the Baker City community, a tradition which stands today, with the exception of the year that Baker High School experienced a fire in 1988. He served as the director for 28 years with Oden Hawes, Don Peterson and Tom Welter, until he turned over the reins in 2002 to Mike Durgan.
Gary retired from his coaching career in 1972. He continued his classroom teaching and served as BHS athletic director until 1983, when he retired completely.
Gary retired “full-time” to the “Hammond Hideout” on East Eagle Creek where he had previously entertained the special effects director for “Paint Your Wagon,” filmed near the cabin in 1968. In addition, when Gary was not preparing for his famous crappie feeds or cooking for the Grizzly Bear convention, he could be found pursuing his love for the great outdoors. Gary was an avid horseshoe pitcher, hunter and fisherman.
In 1993, he received the OSAA “Distinguished Service Award” recognizing his contributions to youth athletics and the support of the OSAA, as tournament director. He was accompanied to Washington, D.C., for the award presentation by his son, Greg Hammond.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Frances; his mother and father; and a sister, Velda Clark.
Survivors include his daughter, Cheryl Heffner and her husband, Dean, of Pendleton; his son, Greg Hammond and his wife, Debbie, of Bend; six grandchildren, Mark Grigg and his wife, Colleen, of Moses Lake, Wash., Tricia Martinez and her husband, Rick, of Pendleton, Jodi Connor and her husband, Greg, of Asotin, Wash., Jason Heffner and his wife, Dawn, of Willamina and Scott and Katelyn Hammond of Bend; 13 great-grandchildren; four sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to the Baker High School Athletic Department in care of Mike Sullivan.
Used with permission from: Baker City Herald, Baker City, Oregon, April 30, 2008
Transcribed by: Belva Ticknor