George Robert Hammel of Rye, New York, passed away on October 18, 2021, at the age of 87.
Born on August 31, 1934, he was the son of Wilbert and Anna Marie (Zilliox) Hammel. He spent his childhood in Scarsdale, New York, with older brothers Bert Jr., Ray, and Al.
After attending Iona Preparatory School, he graduated from Portsmouth Abbey School, where he was a standout basketball and baseball player. He was named to the Rhode Island All-State basketball team his senior year. George went on to Dartmouth College, but left to enlist in the U.S. Army during the Korean
War. He received his degree in 1958.
It was through one of his brothers that George was introduced to Judith Wenderoth, the love of his life. Shortly after they were married, Mr. Hammel embarked on an over 30-year career with McGraw Hill, publisher of The Physician and Sportsmedicine magazine, where he was head of advertising sales. He loved McGraw Hill and cherished his decades-long friendships there. He and Sportsmedicine became almost synonymous, down to his booming voice always answering the phone the same way: “Sportsmedicine, George Hammel.” On his 20th anniversary at McGraw Hill, he was given a framed picture of the company headquarters at 1221 Avenue of the Americas, with the inscription, “The House That Hammel Built”.
Former colleagues recall his outgoing personality, engaging sense of humor, and easy, infectious laugh. Holding court with friends and entertaining clients in New York City, he was a fixture at Palm Too restaurant on Second Avenue, which painted his portrait on the wall, and at the former Christ Cella and Giambelli’s restaurants, as well as at New York Rangers hockey games, where he was a season ticketholder for decades.
George Hammel was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and sports fanatic. One of his greatest pleasures was watching his kids’ and grandkids’ sports, and he was always happy to play ball and give coaching tips. He introduced his wife and children to skiing, which became a lifelong family activity, as were summers spent at their beloved beach home in Milford, Conn.
Family, church, sports, and education exemplified his core values, said his family. “Do your best, always. Act with integrity, honesty, and fairness. George lived by the words of basketball coach John Wooden: ‘The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.’ Be equally gracious in victory and in defeat. Work hard, play hard. George did all of these.”
George Hammel is now reunited with his beloved wife Judy, who passed away in 2020, and for whom he cared with unwavering devotion her last years. He will be greatly missed by his children and grandchildren: Karen and her husband Richard Ruge, Jeff and his wife Yvette Hammel and their children Ryan and Jack, and Jean Hammel and her husband Doodnauth Hiraman and their children, Michael, Scott, John, and Kelly.
Services were held October 22 at St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan.
Donations in George Hammel’s memory may be made to the Bert Hammel Scholarship Fund, Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence, 136 Water Street, Lawrence, MA 01841.