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Elizabeth Hammer

| July 29, 2005 12:00 AM

Former Libby resident Elizabeth Oneal Hammer, 82, died on July 2, 2005, at the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls after suffering from Alzheimer's disease for nearly a decade.

She was born on April 23, 1923 at St. Ignatius, to Glen and Marion Oneal, who were attempting to reach Missoula for the delivery but their daughter was eager to get started, a trait that from then on characterized her personality. She was raised on a dairy farm near Libby that her mother described as a stump ranch in her novel, "Don't Push My Trees Around."

Elizabeth graduated from Libby High School with the Class of 1941 and earned a teaching certificate from Western Montana College. She taught at a one-room school near Fortine for a year before enlisting in the Navy WAVES in 1944.

While stationed at the Pentagon for the remainder of World War II, she enjoyed traveling on weekends and leave periods with "Navy Buddies" who remained lifelong friends. Their adventures including hitching rides on Navy vessels and visiting Havana, Cuba.

After her honorable discharge in 1945, Elizabeth attended the University of California at Berkeley for a year, where she met her husband-to-be at the Methodist Episcopal Wesley House.

In 1948 she graduated from Washington State University at Pullman and worked for the Bendix Corporation and International Harvester in Salt Lake City.

On Oct. 20, 1951, she married Andy A. Hammer and they lived in Valier where she taught home economics for a year and then raised four children and managed the finances of the family business, Hammer Plumbing.

In 1982 Beth and Andy retired and moved to Condon, where they built their dream home on the Swan River.

She was an active member of the Valier United Methodist Church, serving as Sunday school teacher and delegate to the Yellowstone Annual Conference. She was a past president of the American Legion Auxiliary Emmett Ryan Post and was a tireless supporter of the post's scouting program. She was proud that all three of her sons became Eagle Scouts.

Beth enjoyed fishing, camping, huckleberry picking and picnicking, at least partly because they afforded opportunity to engage in her real passion, admiring and identifying wildflowers that she often described as "just weeds."

She loved children, dogs and horses, especially in raucous combination.

A beloved wife, mother, grandmother and friend, Beth has already been mourned as Alzheimer's disease slowly extinguished her vivacious personality. She will be missed.

Preceded in death by her parents, brother Glen and niece Fay Redwine, Beth is survived by her husband Andy of Missoula; son Mark Hammer and his wife Erica, Loveland, Colo., and their sons Ryan, Fort Worth, Texas, and Aaron, Houston; daughter Jane and husband Philip Hall, their sons Matthew and Mitchell and daughter Andrea of Potomac, her son Glen, Longwood, Fla., and her son Roger and his wife Tatiana and their daughter Rowan and son Anders of Madison, Wis.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 29, at the Garden City Funeral Home, 1705 W. Broadway with the Rev. Barry Padget officiating. Internment of ashes will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at Lakeview Cemetery in Valier.

Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of america, 322 Eighth Ave., Sixth Floor, New York City, NY 10001; (866) 232-8484, www.alzfdn.org.