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Rev. Eric Saxwold Hammar

June 11, 1929 February 23, 2021
Rev. Eric Saxwold Hammar
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Obituary for Rev. Eric Saxwold Hammar

The Rev. Eric S. Hammar went to be with his Lord and Savior on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.  He was 91 years old.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 62 years Florence Lilly (Anderson) Hammar and is survived by his children, Eric (Andrea), Stephen (Sue), David (Laurie), and Judith (William) Sturm; his nine grandchildren, Emily (Robert), Alayna (Yves), Matthew, Dagan, Sarah, John, Annalise (Zachary), Alyssa (JJ), Eric and one great granddaughter, Gaia.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Services will take place on a later date at First United Methodist Church Brighton, Michigan.

In lieu of flowers Memorial Contributions may be sent to:

Eric S. Hammar endowment fund, Garrett Theological Seminary, 2121 Sheridan Road Evanston, Il 60201, Phone: 1,847,866,3900 or NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
PO Box 49104 Baltimore, MD   21297, Online: www.nami.org, Phone: 888,999,6264

Eric’s father entered the Northern Swedish Conference ministry in 1921 and served bilingual churches in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan; Norway, Cunard, Bark River, and Escanaba/Cornell. In 1929 his mother and father traveled for medical assistance to Chicago from the upper peninsula because doctors feared his mother had a stomach tumor. She was pregnant. Eric Saxwold Hammar, son of Rev. Karl John Hammar and Anna (Saxwold) Hammar, was born June 11, 1929 in Chicago, the first and only child of first-generation immigrants whose parents came from Sweden and Norway.

Eric graduated Escanaba High School in June 1947 and from Michigan State College in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree plus a secondary teaching certificate. He attended Garrett Theological seminary in Evanston, Illinois graduating with honors in 1954. He married Florence Anderson December 27, 1952 at Central Methodist Church in Escanaba with his father presiding. Prior to graduation he was appointed to Stephenson Methodist in the Upper Peninsula and commuted via train. He served Stepheson for four years, one year in White Pine/Ontonagon, nine years at Wesley United Methodist in Ishpeming, Orchard United Methodist in Farmington Hills for nine years, six years as district superintendent of the Saginaw Bay District, and ten years at Northville United Methodist from which he retired as a senior pastor. He settled in Brighton and assisted or filled in for senior pastors at Ann Arbor West Side, Dexter, Saline, Farmington, and his childhood church, Central United Methodist in Escanaba.

Eric was a lover, helper, and a hugger. He loved to laugh, smile, and make jokes. He loved his family, church, community, the upper peninsula, but most of all he loved serving the Lord. He preached and practiced the unconditional love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Congregants were embraced before and after services with a hug. He met with local clergy in all his pastorates and encouraged interfaith studies and cooperation. The local Rabbi in Ishpeming and he exchanged pulpits in the mid 60’s. He said a “basic concept of the Jewish-Christian tradition is the brotherhood of one God. One of the many ways in which this brotherhood of man may be experienced is through common worship.” 

He loved music. He soloed in high school productions and was a soloist at Central Methodist Church downtown Lansing while attending school in East Lansing. He married his favorite duet partner from high school and sang many more duets with Florence who often accompanied their performances on the piano or organ. He entertained the staff and patients at his care facility with his singing during his last two years. He could remember most words to hymns and popular music from his youth. When he could not remember the words, he would sing or whistle the melodies or in some cases make up his own words.

He loved to read. He joined book clubs and was always surrounded by books, periodicals, and the New York Times book review. He shared his love of reading with his children and grandchildren. He taught classes at his local library in retirement.

He loved teaching and learning. He was not shy about doing what he felt was the right thing to do.  When the Ishpeming Public Schools would not allow the teaching of sexual education during the school day, he arranged release days for seventh grade students to be bussed to their local places of worship for religious education or in the case of Wesley Methodist this included sex education which he taught to the boys. As part of a pastoral exchange program, he spent the summer in Cornwall England and served six congregations ranging in size from 175 to 12 people. He studied remotely with the San Francisco Theological Seminary Doctoral of Ministries and spent a summer there to enhance his pastoral skills

He loved theater and added soliloquies to his preaching as Simon Peter, the cross maker, and even Santa Claus. He kept his preaching current. This included letting his hair grow during the turbulent times of the seventies and sermon topics focused on nonviolence and racial inequities. 

Eric was involved in his local communities and participated in groups such as Elderwise, Kiwanis, Rotary. He was active with the Michigan Epilepsy Center Foundation, Michigan Combined Health Services for the Upper Peninsula, and Psychological Consultation Services for Pastors. He served on a committee to have the Cornish pasty recognized as the official meal of the State of Michigan.

He was always available at the parsonage, the church, and by phone. The phone would ring at any time. He was always available to listen and counsel.

He had many loves, and we are grateful he willingly shared all of them with us. The love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ flowed through him and we have been inspired and are better because of it. Three things will last forever, faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love and may we shower this gift of unconditional love, a love inspired by the Holy Spirit, on everything we do and on everything we say, every day, and every way as the preacher man inspires us to do.

For further information, please contact Lynch & Sons, Brighton at 810-229-2905


Memorial Contribution

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

PO Box 49104
Baltimore, MD 21297

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

2121 Sheridan Rd.
Evanston, Illinois 60201
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