Rounding a Century and a Globe

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Photo by Lester Smith

Richard Hammerich examines the certificate presented to him by First Selectman Melissa Mack honoring him on the occasion of his one hundredth birthday.

Mary Anne Zak

Retired newspaper reporter, columnist, bomber pilot, and world traveler Dick Hammerich of Suffield by the River surely clocked hundreds of thousands of miles on his way to his hundredth birthday.

At Suffield by the River on October 4, Melissa Mack, Suffield’s First Selectman, and our State Representative came to salute Dick’s century. Each presented him with a framed official proclamation celebrating his status.

Growing up in the center of Springfield and playing ball down the block with kids in the neighborhood, Dick eventually went a few more blocks to Classical High School. After graduating, he attended AIC for two years before WWII began and for an additional two years after it ended.

In the meantime, he joined the Navy. Trained as a bomber pilot, Dick participated in a secret mission at a landlocked Oklahoma Air Station: four- engine planes were being re- designed to transport drones. Dick piloted the big planes until danger warranted the mission’s being abandoned.

Returning to AIC after WWII, Dick earned his bachelor’s degree with an English major and worked as a reporter for the Bangor (Maine) Daily Commercial for six years. Then hired by the Springfield Morning Union of fond memory, he worked as a reporter, photographer, and as a columnist renowned as “the artful codger.” Dick reviewed Tanglewood’s summer concerts for the Springfield Republican for 33 years before retiring at age 68. He traveled extensively at his own expense with the symphony throughout Europe and explored several continents on his own.

Celebrating his century, Dick welcomed members of his family in September for an early celebration. From Colorado, Texas and New York State they gathered to honor their clan centenarian.

The high point of their visit was the pilgrimage they took with Dick to Chester, New Hampshire, and the house where his mother was born. Welcomed warmly to the house by its present residents, Dick reveled in the fact that he and his family were not strangers by the time they departed.

Family members invited him to join them in spirit on a journey around the world next year! They presented Dick a 33” x 51” inch wall map marked with the route of the voyage and its ports of call. They will depart from Houston, TX, in their 55- foot catamaran and sail to Colombia to join a Round the World Rally of the World Cruising Club in January.

Dick will relish receiving reports of the travels. He looks forward especially to learning about the home-schooling two grandnieces and a nephew will receive from their parents as they circumnavigate the globe. 

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