Hamm Leaves Lasting Legacy

Elvin E. Hamm's 1939 class photo.

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Bright and eager with an adventurer’s spirit and gentleman’s demeanor, Elvin E. Hamm was destined for success the moment he first stepped on the Rio Grande campus in 1937.

Known as “Porky” in his college days, Hamm graduated with a degree in Liberal Arts in 1939 and promptly set off to make the world his playground. Throughout his journeys and many successes, however, a passion for Rio Grande remained strong.

A frequent donor and significant contributor to the Alumni Bell Tower, Hamm passed in January of 2012. But through his estate Hamm made one last substantial gift to Rio Grande.

“He always had a real fondness for Rio Grande,” said Carolynn Hartsough, Hamm’s daughter. “He became a great businessman and I think he contributed a lot of that to his education at Rio Grande.”

Hamm married Edna Alice Roberts in Panama City, Fla., in 1942 and by his 30s had built his wealth thanks to success in the oil and gas industry. With a healthy dose of curiosity and ambition, plus the means to satisfy such desires, the World War II Merchant Marines Veteran became a world traveler, renowned western memorabilia collector and nationally recognized tree farmer.

“It just went on and on with him,” Hartsough said. “There wasn’t much that he wanted to do that he didn’t do. He became successful and had the means; that’s a wonderful, wonderful position to be in.”

Hamm was never a stranger to Rio Grande. Despite his world travels, wintering in Texas and numerous business endeavors, a year rarely passed when Hamm did not step foot on campus at least once. He also frequented alumni functions whenever possible and was a friend to many on campus.

Susan Haft, Director of New Student Advising at Rio Grande, spent 18 years as Director of Alumni Relations from 1989 to 2007 and developed a deep respect and friendship with Hamm.

“In all the years I was over there he stands out as one of the most vivid gentleman I ever had the pleasure of getting to know,” Haft said. “He always took interest in the person he was speaking with; he was not the sort of person where it was all about him. He was always very interesting, and very interested.”

Those characteristics were certainly present during his Rio days, when Hamm served as vice president of Alpha Tau Delta, was a member of the Drama Club, Mixed Chorus and Tumbling Team, and worked on the staff of the Cardinal student newspaper and Grandion yearbook.

“E.E. Hamm was an outstanding gentleman with a strong passion for his alma matter,” said Paul Harrison, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Institutional Advancement. “His numerous contributions have benefited countless students and this institution over the years.”

Among those students was Hamm’s own granddaughter, Heidi. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in 1994 and also met her future husband, Eric Hamm, no relation. The couple named their first child Evan E. Hamm, or as Carolynn said, “little E.E.”

Heidi, Eric and Carolynn visited the Rio Grande campus this summer as guests of President Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley.

“I never had the pleasure to meet E.E. Hamm, but it was an absolute joy to meet with multiple generations of his family,” Gellman-Danley said. “The stories they shared spoke to a man of great character and a wonderful life; I was honored to have that experience. Thanks to his passion and generosity, the legacy of E.E. Hamm will always resonate throughout the entire Rio family.”