Walt Hammond

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Clifford Walter Hammond, 96, of La Crosse passed away peacefully on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at Riverside Transitional Care in La Crosse.

Walt HammondWalt was born on February 18, 1924, in Omaha, Neb., to C.W. and Minnie (Brooks) Hammond. He attended several elementary and high schools, graduating from Omaha Central High School in 1941. He began college at Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa, but Naval service interrupted that career.

As a U. S. Navy electronics technician first class, he served shipboard in the North and South Atlantic until his discharge from active duty in 1946. As a member of the U. S. Naval Reserve, he was commissioned as an office after active duty. He completed his college studies in electrical engineering and technical journalism in 1948.

Walt was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, a professional journalism society. He received many other honors at Iowa State, including Cardinal Key, Tau Beta Pi (scholastic), Knights of St. Patrick (engineering), Eta Kappa Nu (electrical engineering), sports editor of the school newspaper and president of his social fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.

While in school, Walt created and researched a comprehensive book on the history of fraternities and sororities at Iowa State. It was published in book form after his graduation and serves yet as an ISC reference manual.

After graduation, Walt joined the Trane Company in the advertising department, then moved to sales engineering. It was then that he met Sally Kennard. They were married on June 2, 1951, by the Rev. Harold Stoffel at English Lutheran Church in La Crosse. He later joined his father-in-law, Elmer Kennard, in the Buick dealership. He acquired the dealership in 1974 and operated it as president, along with his son, David. He retired in 1990 from the dealership which by then had acquired several additional automobile brands.

Walt enjoyed golf and traveling, having hosted multiple tours of Europe, the British Isles and Alaska. He served on a number of organizations: past-president of the La Crosse Country Club, member of the Lutheran Hospital Board of Directors, member of SCORE, 1972 Oktoberfest Festmaster (along with Frau Sally), and continued on the board of trustees of La Crosse Festivals Inc. He represented area auto and truck dealers on the state association. He also represented Buick dealerships in Wisconsin on the Buick National Advisory Board.

Walt was a member of the Masonic Order, F and A.M. Badger Lodge #345, Eau Claire Consistory 32nd degree and a proud Shriner and a member of the Zor Temple, Madison. He was also a member of V.F.W. Post 1530 and American Legion Post 52, as well as the Loyal Order of Moose, Lodge 1920. After Walt retired from the automobile business, he worked as a bailiff in the La Crosse Circuit Courts.

Walt was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Sally, on March 18, 2010.

He is survived by a daughter, Barbara Smyth; a son, David (Diane) Hammond, son-in-law, Robert Smyth; grandchildren, Sara Smyth, Lisa Smyth-Vitale (John Vitale), Laura (Jeff) Windpassinger, Mark (Mari) Hammond, Michael (Paige) Hammond, Jennifer (Dan) Casanova, Christine Bottcher and Joe Bottcher; and great grandchildren, Annabelle and Theodore Hammond, Katherine and Joseph Windpassinger, Hudson and Weston Casanova, and Sebastian Vitale.

Because of current conditions, only private family services will be planned at this time.

Honorary pallbearers will be Chris Weiss, Dr. Gregory Ludden, Robert Richardson, Terry Zalewski and Dr. Stephen Webster. If you want to give a memorial in Walt’s memory, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in La Crosse, Riverside Transitional Care – Recreational Therapy Department, or the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children-Chicago, or the charitable organization of the donor’s choice.

Schumacher-Kish Funeral and Cremation Services of La Crosse is assisting the family. Online condolences may be submitted at www.schumacher-kish.com.

Walt’s family would like to express their heartfelt thanks to the faithful physicians, nurses and staff at Riverside Transitional Care for their professional care with genuine love and concern.