Louis W. (Bill) Hammer

Louis W. (Bill) Hammer


Louis W. (Bill) Hammer, of Clinton and a resident of Rock Creek, died May 6 at his new home in Dillon. He was in ill health for several years, but God has now called him home.

Bill was born June 14, 1930, in Scranton, ND, but moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota when he was three years old. He attended Lead Public Schools, graduating in 1948. He was active in all drama and vocal music activities.

He attended Black Hills College in Spearfish, SD, and Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD, where he received his Bachelor of Music degree in 1952. At Augustana, he met and married the love of his life, Lois Norby. They were happily married for 63 years.

Bill was sought after as a soloist, first at Lead High school, and then through his years at Augustana, and as a student at the University of Colorado. He performed for many community activities and organizations. Bill received his Master of Music Education degree from the University of Colorado in 1957. One of his professional highlights was singing “South Pacific” at Red Rocks Amphitheater while attending the University.

He taught music in the schools of Smithland, IA, Chamberlain, SD, Worthington, MN and Missoula. His choirs were widely recognized for their excellent quality and professional presentations. He taught music theory and choir at Worthington Community College for his last 11 years in Minnesota. Most of his students still fondly remember him and call him “Uncle Bill.” His college groups were sought after to perform for local organizations and toured annually. 

Additionally, he was a much sought after judge for music contests throughout the state of Minnesota. Bill is recognized as one of the outstanding music directors in Colleges and Universities in America. He also started a very successful community chorus that performed several Gilbert and Sullivan operas, as well as more contemporary concerts.

In 1979, Bill and Lois moved to Montana, where Bill became active in the Missoula Mendelssohn Club and toured abroad to many European countries to perform concerts. After attending and participating in the International Choral Festival in Nancy, France, the Mendelssohn Club was inspired to create the now famous International Choral Festival in Missoula.

He delighted in the outdoors, fishing, hunting and all things of nature. He was a fierce advocate for the health and protection of his beloved Rock Creek fishery. He served for many years as the chairman of the Rock Creek Protection Association and was successful in providing an improved road for the first 11 miles of Rock Creek.

In his later years, Bill became an accomplished lapidarist and reveled in making and sharing hundreds of different items of jewelry by cutting and polishing gem stones. He always enjoyed composing music, writing poetry, tyng flies, rock hunting, traveling and, of course, fishing his beloved Rock Creek, where he knew every fish by name, as well as other fisheries of the world.

He will be missed by his family and friends. He is survived by: his wife, Lois Hammer, of Rock Creek and Dillon; daughters Joy (Kevin) Miller, of Plymouth, MN, and Lori (Steve) Laughlin, of Spearfish, SD; son Eric Hammer (Sandra McIntyre), of Dillon; grandchildren Maren Miller, of Rochester, MN, Anna Miller, of Plymouth, MN, Colin (Nicole) Laughlin, of Denver, CO, and Kyle (Beth) Laughlin, of Rapid City, SD.

Services were held Monday in Missoula. Memorials can be given to Dillon Hospice in Dillon, Family Promise of Missoula or a charity that helps the disadvantaged. A guestbook is available at www.brundagefuneralhome.com.