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Dear Chris and Dan, Your beautifully expressed obituary captured the essence of the man Susan and I, as well as the whole Smeeton family, loved very much. Your Dad was a remarkable man whose friendship I really enjoyed and treasured. The Notre Dame connection cemented our relationship and we both relished recalling those glory years when the Fighting Irish dominated the collegiate football world. Our friendship, however, went far beyond football, and when our beloved wives were alive, we spent many happy and memorable moments together. Your Dad and Mother came to know over the years our five children and grandchildren, who individually and collectively, viewed them as members of the extended Smeeton tribe. Last year Dan attended our annual Thanksgiving get together and entertained everyone with his uncommon ability to command the room with his spontaneous wit and singing. In short, the Smeeton family lost a dear friend who enriched our lives immeasurably. May he Rest In Peace as he goes to his eternal reward. The Smeeton family’s thoughts and prayers join yours during this most difficult time.
He blessed me by being in my life.
Dan Hammer, longtime resident of Amelia Island and most recently of Osprey Village Retirement community, passed away on October 12. He was 89 years old.
Dan, a native Clevelander, attended St. Ignatius High School where he was placed in the Classical program that included four years of Latin and two of Homeric Greek. Little did he know then that down the road this would pay dividends in his law practice, as three of the US District judges in Cleveland where Dan would be trying cases were of Greek ancestry! They were all amazed that Dan could recite by memory the opening stanzas of The Odyssey in the original Greek.
After high school, Dan attended the University of Notre Dame, where he graduated with a B.S. in Business. The Korean War was winding down then, but the draft was still beckoning 1954 grads. Rather than waiting for his number to come up, he volunteered for the draft so he could complete his service requirement as soon as possible. He was recruited during his basic training by the Counter Intelligence Corp to see if he had any interest in becoming a special agent in the CIC. Dan thought that service option sounded better than perhaps being involved in live combat somewhere, so he readily accepted their offer, and after graduating from Army Intelligence School, he served the remainder of his tour of duty in Europe and mostly in civilian clothes.
After he was discharged from the Army, Dan enrolled at Notre Dame Law School and graduated in 1959. He aspired to become a litigator, so he secured a clerkship with a U.S. District judge in Cleveland, and in this position he was privileged to learn his future craft from some of the most prominent trial attorneys in Cleveland.
Dan also met his wife Anne in the summer of 1959 on a blind date, and it was love at first sight for both. They were married in less than a year on July 30, 1960. August of 1961 became a month they would remember for a lifetime. Dan joined Thompson, Hine, and Flory, a premier business law firm in Cleveland that was looking to expand its litigation presence, on August 1. The very next day, on August 2, their first child, Dan, Jr. was born and they moved into their first home on Roanoke Rd. in Cleveland Hts. on August 18. Eleven months after Dan was born, their daughter Christine arrived. Irish twins! When they had their third and final child Andy in 1968, they moved to Shaker Hts. where they raised their family.
Dan was with Thompson, Hine, and Flory his entire career. He rose through the ranks quickly, serving on its executive committee for many years and heading up the litigation section, which in time became the largest practice area in the firm. THF grew to well over 300 lawyers in five offices. Dan had many professional accomplishments: he was elected a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Bar Foundation, was a life member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, and he was elected President of the Cleveland Bar Association. He capped his career by becoming the firm’s Managing Partner for the last two and a half years of his practice, and retired at the age of 66.
Dan’s connection with Amelia Island started in 1978, when after vacationing with the Luke Karlovec and John Fulton families in Hilton Head the previous summer, John suggested they try Amelia Island, as he was working with Dick Cooper, a Clevelander who was buying Amelia Island Plantation out of bankruptcy. They all rented side-by-side villas in Lagoon Villas, and had a wonderful time. All three families then vacationed in Amelia every summer thereafter. Dan and Anne bought a Beachwood condo right next to the Karlovecs in 1998, and when he fully retired they decided to sell their residence in Cleveland and live full time on Amelia. They bought a home on Wax Myrtle in 2002, and lived there until Dan lost his beloved wife Anne in 2015, after 54 years of marriage. Dan then moved in to his Osprey Village villa, where he lived with his best four-legged friend Cooper, a black full sized Dachshund who Dan rescued from the Nassau Humane Society soon after Anne’s passing. They were inseparable, but Cooper will still be a Hammer as Dan’s grandson Matt will be taking him back home to Cleveland.
Dan was quite a competitive golfer at one point, and he had a member-guest and a member-member trophy to show for it, but he had to give up golf in 2010 after suffering a torn patella tendon. But that did not stop Dan, as he had a passion for singing and a voice to complement it. He sang Christmas and Easter Cantatas at The Plantation Chapel and Amelia Baptist Church, as well as singing with the choir at both St. Michael’s and St. Francis churches. And, almost everyone on the island at some point in time has heard Dan’s rendition of “Danny Boy” or “I’m My Own Grandpa”.
Dan was a man with a heart of gold who touched many lives over the years in both Cleveland and after retirement on Amelia Island. He loved God, his family, his dog Cooper, and all of the wonderful people who walked with him on his life journey in Cleveland and on Amelia Island. His youngest son Andy passed away in 2016, but is survived by his oldest son Dan, Jr. and daughter Christine, and 6 grandchildren (Danny, Julia, Matt, Lillie, Caroline, and Alex) whom he adored. Dan Jr. and Christine would in particular like to thank all of the people who helped Dan in his most recent years, where physical ailments consistently made his life more difficult than any of us would have liked. You all were a tremendous blessing to both him and to us, as we tried to do the best we could in helping Dad from our Arizona and Maryland homes. You have our eternal gratitude.
Dan’s services will be on Saturday, November 19. There will be an 11:00 AM funeral mass at St. Francis in Yulee, followed immediately by his burial at Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernandina Beach.