Robert (Bob) Hamm, age 95, died Friday, February 7, 2020 in New Underwood, South Dakota.
Bob is survived by his wife, Rita Dixon Hamm; his sons and their spouses, Don and Ann Hamm and Gary and Terri Hamm; his grandchildren and their spouses, Austin and Kristal Hamm, Nik and Jadie Hamm, Tony Hamm, and Mikaela and Nick Licht; his great-grandchildren, Christopher Camphouse, Justice Chambers, Liberty Chambers, Alexis Hamm, Brock Hamm, Elizabeth Hamm, Hudson Hamm, Julie Hamm, Lucas Hamm, Tucker Hamm, and Cyrrus Lowe, and Doon Lowe; and his great-great-grandson, Oliver Chambers. He was preceded in death by his grandsons, Jon Hamm and Justin Hamm.
Bob was born December 27, 1924 in a small shack located in a logging/mining camp that was run by his father, Claud Hamm. The camp was located on Sheridan Lake Road, approximately a quarter mile from where Bob lived the majority of his life. Bob was delivered by his grandmother, Alice Hamm, who was a midwife.
At an early age, Bob developed a strong work ethic from his entrepreneurial father. Growing up, Bob excelled at a number of jobs that included working on the family ranch and on a dairy farm, driving logging trucks, as well as skidding logs by horse.
Bob loved learning but he was forced to leave high school to help his mother run the family ranch after the untimely death of his father. Bob joined the service and proudly served in the Navy during the Korean War. It was while he was stationed in Long Beach, California that he met his future wife, Rita Faye Dixon. Bob served on two vessels as a Navy Metalsmith, the U.S.S. Bryce Canyon AD-36 destroyer tender ship and the U.S.S. Naifeh DE-352 destroyer escort. During his time on the latter, Bob and his fellow shipmates encountered several “close calls” while sailing the Yellow Sea, which is located between China and Korea. In 2002, Bob received the Korea War Service Medal.
After the war, Bob returned to California and married the love of his life, Rita, on December 27, 1952. Soon after, the newlyweds made their way to Rapid City, South Dakota and started their family. They had two sons, Gary Lee Hamm and Donald Bruce Hamm.
It was upon his return to Rapid City that Bob worked with his brothers, Glen and Warren, building stock dams in Mission, South Dakota. It was during this time that Bob and Warren crashed a 2-seater plane and fortunately they “walked away.” Bob put his iron working skills to good use as he helped build Douglas High School. In addition, he started his own welding shop, Precision Welding. Bob was busy many evenings when he ran night classes to teach and certify welders who went on to work at missile sites. In addition, Bob and his brother, Warren, also worked on fencing around various missile sites as well as Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Many will recognize a unique landmark that still stands in Rapid City and can be seen for miles. Bob’s company, Precision Welding, fabricated the windmill at the Windmill Truck Stop. In addition, Bob was co-founder of Southern Hills Mining and he also served as a board member for both the Whispering Pines Volunteer Fire Department and the Black Hills Electric Co-op. For over twenty years, Bob employed his many talents in the timber industry with Hamm’s Wood Products.
Bob was a volunteer firefighter for Whispering Pines Volunteer Fire Department and was an active member of the Black Hills Antique Car Club as well as VMCCA, Vintage Motor Car Club of America. In addition, he was also a member of the Elks Club, the Gem and Mineral Society, and the Black Hills Prospectors Club. Bob loved to go prospecting in the Black Hills with friends and was an avid rock collector. He hunted, collected, cut, and polished many many rocks.
He will be missed.
Bob’s family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations honoring Bob’s life and legacy be made to the following organizations:
Black Hills Prospectors , PO Box 9222 , Rapid City, SD 57709 or Western Dakota Gem & Mineral Society, PO Box 1954, Rapid City, SD 57709.