Margaret Mae (Blanchard) Hammill, 101, passed away on July 22, 2020, in Massena, New York, where she had been living in a nursing home for nearly a year.
Mrs. Hammill was born in West Potsdam, New York, on March 15, 1919. She lived in that general area of Saint Lawrence County, upstate New York, for the rest of her long life.
Margaret Blanchard married Jeremiah James (Jerry) Hammill from Brasher Falls, New York, and gave birth to their first child, Terrence Michael Hammill in late 1940. Margaret had six more children: Jane Michele Hampton (Solvay), Kathleen M. Hammill (Fayetteville), Thomas Patrick Hammill (deceased, 2013), Stephen James Hammill (Gallatin, Tennessee), Stephanie Belle Wood (Plattsburgh, New York), and Jeremiah Jonathan Hammill (Winthrop, New York). This Hammill family grew up together in Brasher Falls, and later in nearby Winthrop.
Margaret grew up in West Potsdam, the daughter of Frank B. and Eva Hedden Blanchard. She attended a one-room schoolhouse with unheated, separated outhouses for girls and boys. Her mother, Eva, was the overseer of the teacher and the operation of the schoolhouse. Margaret was an outstanding student, especially in art and arithmetic. The old school house became a restaurant in recent years.
Margaret had one sister, Doris, (deceased) and three brothers, (Guy, James and Jesse, all deceased). Margaret was the last living member of her immediate Blanchard family.
In the early 1940s, the young Hammill family moved into a small house Jerry had inherited from an unmarried aunt, in the village of Brasher Falls. As the family grew, Jerry, who worked as a carpenter and construction worker, made needed improvements to the old home.
During the 1950s, Margaret developed and operated, for a decade or so, a very successful small neighborhood grocery store next door to the family home in Brasher Falls. The store was in a cement block building, about 1,800 square feet, constructed by Jerry and friends.
As the younger family members grew up, and lost their Hammill grandparents (Michael T. and Bertha McCarthy Hammill), the family moved to Winthrop, into the home of the deceased grandparents. Over the next few years, Margaret watched four of her children grow up and move on. In 1959, Terrence enrolled in SUNY-Potsdam. Years later, (in 1971) he became a professor of biology at SUNY-Oswego. He also served as Mayor of Oswego (1992-1999). Jane moved to Syracuse and worked at a number of different jobs over the years (currently, she has a security position at a Syracuse Costco store). Kathleen retired from a long career as an agent for US Airlines. Thomas rose to the rank of Captain in the United States Army Special Forces, and served two tours in Vietnam and Cambodia. He retired from the United States Army after eight years because of the effects of Agent Orange. He then worked in auto sales in central New York until his death in 2013.
Margaret’s now smaller Hammill family of Jerry, Stephen, Stephanie, and Jeremiah Jonathan moved onto a small farm in rural Winthrop. Later, Stephen joined his older siblings, moved on, and had a long career as a Master Diver in the United States Navy, followed by a second career as a deputy sheriff in Sonoma County, California. Daughters Jane, Kathleen and Stephanie moved away to central and greater northern New York, and started their own new families.
Margaret’s husband died in 1983, at age 73. Jeremiah Jonathan and his wife, Nancy, now own and live on the farm. For many years while running the farm, Jeremiah Jonathan had a lengthy career as a NYS Corrections Officer in northern New York. Margaret lived on the farm with Jeremiah and Nancy and a couple of young grandsons. Ultimately, Margaret moved into a Senior Living Complex in Brasher Falls, and then into a Nursing Home in Massena, New York.
Among her children Margaret had 15 grandchildren, and many more great- and, great-great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were provided by Hammill Funeral Home, Winthrop, founded in 1918 by Margaret’s future Father-in-Law, Michael T. Hammill. Burial will be in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Brasher Falls.