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Rita Doreen Hammel

1928 - 2016

Rita Doreen Hammel reunited with her husband, Melvin on Sunday morning, August 7th. According to her wishes, she was at home, surrounded by family.

Born in Tofield, Alberta, Canada, on November 21st, 1928, she went to work with her mother for the U.S. Army in the Yukon during WWII. She began writhing to Melvin C. Hammel who was serving in the U.S. Coast Guard. They wrote for three years without meeting and fell in love through the mail. The day after they met, they were engaged. A year later they were married in Vancouver, B.C. and came by train to Santa Barbara, CA, where they lived for 33 years. It was there that their four children were born: Susanne Hammel-Sawyer (Benjamin), Thomas Charles Hammel (Judy), Sally Jane Hammel (Mark Glass), and Trudy Bilodeau (John). Pre-deceased by her parents, husband, brothers and sister, she is survived by her children and sister-in-law, Dolly Sierra. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Cameron, Adam, Jeremy, Melissa, Gwendolyn, Joseph, and Elizabeth, eleven great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren (so far). She also has many surviving nieces and nephews.

While in Santa Barbara, she was a florist, worked for the county assessor, and volunteered for various organizations. Always a LADY, she was known as the “wagon-master” and was a people-gatherer. She never needed an excuse for a party and always welcomed company generously. While she was proud of her Scottish and Canadian heritages, she was even more proud of having become a U.S. citizen.

Rita and Mel moved to Silver Lakes (Helendale), CA in 1978. They spent ten summers working in Yellowstone and seven summers working at the Ponderosa Ranch at Lake Tahoe. She developed a passion for Native American art and jewelry. She was a member of the women’s golf club and was thrilled to have made a hole-in-one. She and Mel were part of an R.V. group that travelled all over the U.S. and Canada. She loved to travel and to meet new people, especially children, everywhere she went. A wonderful hostess, she could always be counted on as a true friend. Late in life, her two dogs were her beloved companions.

A celebration of her life will take place at her home in October. Donations can be made, in her name, to your local Salvation Army, the Helendale Fire Department, or your local Animal Shelter.

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