Pacific Remembers Dr. Eric Hammer
On Monday, January 28th, the Pacific community suffered a loss that came seemingly out of nowhere. Dr. Eric Hammer, Director of Bands at Pacific’s Conservatory of Music, passed away after complications following a recent back surgery. Dr. Hammer’s career began with his undergraduate education here at University of the Pacific, where he graduated in 1973 before earning his master’s and doctorate degrees at the University of Oregon.
“Dr. Hammer was one of the most inspirational humans I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Every single person he knew was welcomed into his family,” says Lauren Gibson ‘17, who served as his Graduate Assistant as she earned her master’s degree from Pacific. “He taught me not just about the intricacies of music, education, and conducting, but also how to be the best person one could be. He always wanted everyone to be the absolute best they could be and often pushed them beyond what they personally believed they were capable of.”
The community that he loved, lived, and breathed for were quick to celebrate his life, with a candlelight vigil being held the night that the news broke of his passing. Pacific students, faculty, and alumni were all in attendance outside of Faye Spanos Concert Hall at 11pm, as the community that mourned Dr. Hammer sang “Pacific Hail” in his honor as Burns Tower began to play the school’s alma mater. After a brief silence, the students and faculty in attendance began to tell their stories of their experiences with Dr. Hammer, eulogizing the man that had undoubtedly changed hundreds of lives in his 26 years at Pacific. The tributes ranged from sentimental stories, funny stories, to the singing of fraternity songs from Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the music fraternity into which he was initiated in 1970. The front entrance to the Faye Spanos Concert Hall was lit for the occasion, and will stay lit until his memorial service.
“Eric would stop into my office often to tell me I was doing an amazing job and he thought we were similar in how we cared about students,” says Conservatory Student Services Coordinator Jennifer Goodwin. “Eric knew exactly how to make me feel appreciated and like I was making a difference.”
What followed was a difficult week for the campus as the community grieved, tried to heal, and most importantly, made music in memory of Dr. Eric Hammer. The Pacific Pep Band took a temporary absence from the women’s basketball game on the 31st, but was filled in by the local band programs from Lincoln and Tracy High School. Both present and past members of the pep band then sang “Pacific Hail” at half time in honor of their long time advisor. The game itself included an honorary moment of silence before tip off, concluded by his signature phrase appearing at the end of all of his correspondence: “Onward.”
“I honestly can’t count how many lessons I learned from him,” says Brandt Nishida ‘13. “Even after I left Pacific he continued make an impact on my life. I think he is one of the main reasons the Conservatory is so special. I don’t think there is a person who embodies Pacific more than Dr. Hammer.”
“Dr. Hammer was always very hard on me because he believed in me and knew I could do better, even when I did not believe in myself. He pushed me to become a better educator and I would not be who I am without his influence,” says Allie VanderMolen, ‘19. “He changed my life.”
Dr. Hammer’s memorial service will be Sunday, February 10th, at 10am in Faye Spanos Concert Hall.