William P. “Billy” Hammel, Jr., 62, a longtime resident of Stoughton, died peacefully at his home in East Falmouth on Sunday, Dec. 23. The Stoughton High graduate (Class of 1968) spent most of his life living and working in Stoughton.
He worked for the Stoughton Department of Public Works for nearly 40 years, before his retirement as Assistant DPW Superintendent in 2010.
Hammel served in the U.S. Coast Guard and was a Veteran of the Vietnam War. Hammel was a member of the VFW Post 1645 in Stoughton. Friends say he enjoyed fishing, boating, NASCAR races, beaches, swimming and spending precious time with his beloved family.
He leaves behind his wife, Sandra, and his children, Jason W. Hammel of Brockton, Erik E. Hammel of Troy, N.Y. and Casey L. Hammel of Stoughton. He was the brother of Gerald Hammel of Little Compton, RI, Michael Hammel of FL, Cynthia Louko and Donald Hammel both of Easton and Francis Hammel of Stoughton. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins.
The Wake will be held at Farley Funeral Home, 358 Park St. (Rt.27) in Stoughton Wednesday, from 4-8 p.m. Funeral will also be held from the Farley Funeral Home, on Thursday, Dec. 27 at 9:30 a.m., followed by a Funeral Mass at Immaculate Conception Church, 122 Canton St. in Stoughton at 10:30 a.m. Interment will take place at Evergreen Cemetery, Stoughton.
John Batchelder, Superintendent of Public Works for the Town of Stoughton, felt terrible about Billy’s passing.
“He was so young. He's been sick for quite awhile. He’s had problems for many years from Agent Orange due to his service for this country in Vietnam. He’s been on low doses of chemo for a long time. Shortly after he retired, they found a tumor near his spine,” Batchelder said.
Batchelder actually went with Billy into Boston to the Beth Israel Hospital, but there really wasn’t much they could do.
Batchelder told About Town about Hammel’s rise to the top at the DPW: "He started in the 1973 at the bottom, like we all did. He worked his way up to assistant superintendent, in charge of water and sewer. He was a truck driver, machine operator, and foreman. He retired a couple of years ago and didn't have a lot of good time before he was sick. He enjoyed the Cape, and was very close to his daughter and his wife. They were inseparable. He loved fishing and boating. They used to go to Florida every winter. They just came back from there about a month ago. They had two Chihuahuas they loved. It's been a blessing to know him. It's a shame. He was much too young.”
Larry Barrett, the retired DPW superintendent, couldn’t believe Billy was gone.
“He was just a great guy," Barrett said. "The town is going to miss this kid. I’ve been with him the last week. He lived six streets away [in East Falmouth], so I’ve been helping him get around in his home. He bought a house here in our development. He went fishing in early November in Florida. I’m glad he got to do that. He loved it so.”
As far as his career, Barrett recalled, “Billy was with me all the way, and I was with him all the way. He was the greatest assistant anyone could ever ask for. Billy and John Batchelder. They were fantastic assistants. Billy was a very smart kid. He had amazing knowledge of water systems. I’m going to miss him terribly. We went fishing, boating and swimming together here.”
Town Meeting member Bob Cohn said that Billy “was a great guy. If you needed anything, he was right there for you. I can’t say enough good things about him."
Former Town Clerk Paul Dawson wrote About Town, “I had the pleasure of working with Bill and was always impressed by his deep care and concern for his hometown. He was a quiet and unassuming gentle man. I will miss his quick wit and bright smile!”
Town Meeting and Conservation Commission member Dori Frankel adds, “Billy was such a nice person, always very professional, because he knew his stuff, and also helpful when I needed anything for ConCom. So sad.”
Hammel started working for Stoughton in July of 1973, and retired in August of 2010.
I went to Hammel’s low-key retirement party. When I asked him what he intended to do, he said, “Plenty of fishing.” I hope he’s hooked a big one up there in Heaven.
Donations in Hammel's memory may be sent to Hope Hospice, 765 Attucks Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601.
(Information from his obituary was used in this article. Photo courtesy of John Batchelder.)