Dr. James W. Hammel
YORBA LINDA, Calif. — Dr. James William Hammel, 95, of Yorba Linda, Calif. passed away Sept. 16, 2020.
He was born Feb. 7, 1925, in Iron Mountain, to William John Hammel and Edythe Polglase Hammel. He grew up and attended schools in Iron Mountain, graduating from Iron Mountain High School in 1942.
He moved to Chicago to attend Hospital Corps night school at Illinois Masonic Hospital while working as a bellhop at the historic Drake Hotel. At age 18, he entered the Navy during World War II where he served as pharmacist mate/corpsman at sea on Landing Ship Tank (LST) #399 until age 21.
He went on to attend Northern Illinois College of Optometry graduating Feb. 5, 1949, and then started a private optometry practice in Crystal Falls. He later joined the Air Force and was stationed at Whellus Air Force Base in Libya for two years. He then transferred to the Navy where he served nearly 30 years as an optometrist. During his duty at Oakland Naval Hospital, he met his second wife, Lt. Donna Davis. (She was the first African American female Medical Officer in U.S. history.)
In 1977, they moved to Southern California and had two sons, Grant and Damien Hammel-Davis. He retired from the Navy as a Commander in 1981.
Jim later joined the ophthalmology office of Dr. Clifford Terry in Fullerton, Calif. He retired for a second time leaving that office when his wife Donna Hammel-Davis, MD was recalled to military duty during the first Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Later in retirement, they enjoyed travel — especially month-long train trips across the USA (relaxing in sleeping cars), annual family treks to Arizona to see Jim’s lovable Cubs play, and to various venues to see his favorite football team the Green Bay Packers.
Jim slowed down very little as time passed, and with his wife as his “physician in residence,” he defied the odds for years. He took an unfortunate fall on Aug. 16, 2020, resulting in a head injury. After a valiant fight, one month later to the day, he breathed his last with his loving wife at his side.
He is survived by his “forever” wife, Donna Hammel-Davis, M.D.; six sons: Damien and Grant and also, Bill, Chris, Jim, and Dan from his first marriage (divorced); four grandchildren: Amber Pettegrew, Melissa Klingsheim, Matthew Hammel, and Sarah Jimenez; three nieces: Karin Galaviz, Charlotte Panaggio, Joyce Chacich; five great-grandchildren; many cherished friends and fond acquaintances.
He was predeceased by his parents: William and Edythe, and his sister, June Morelli.
Jim was a loving, funny, intelligent, caring and deeply moral individual. Truly a peerless husband, father, and friend who will be missed eternally.
Visit his memorial page at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/mission-viejo-ca/james-hammel-9372488