Obituaries

Rhoda Caroline (Stead) Hamm, 95

Rhoda Caroline (Stead) Hamm, 95, of Grangeville, ID, formerly of Cheyenne, WY, passed peacefully from death into eternal life at home on Sat. Sept. 25, 2021. She was born on Aug, 3 1, 1926 in Eveleth, Minnesota, to Swedish immigrants Alfred and Jennie (Rundquist) Stead
She joined brother Malcolm and sisters Leona and Doris. The family lived in northern
Minnesota for the duration of Rhoda’s childhood. She graduated from Eveleth High School in 1944.

Rhoda was an avid letter writer which began in her late teens when she had several male pen pals. One of these “pals,” was a young man from Warba, Minnesota, John Hamm, who was working on constructing the Al-Can highway. She wrote to him faithfully for about 2 years during which time he had joined the Army Air Corps. After completing flight school, John headed home to Minnesota to meet Rhoda face to face. They were married in Douglas, AZ just 4 months later on June 6, 1945. Little did Rhoda know on that June day in ’45 what a life of travel and adventure awaited her as she and the family would travel the world together following John’s Air Force career. Along the way five children were born to the couple spanning the years of 1946 to 1960. Jon Michael, David Clyde, Thomas Alfred, Charles Mark and Debra Carolyn.

Rhoda was an excellent seamstress. While stationed in Ramstein, Germany she made John and the boys each a blue and white gingham shirt with their name embroidered over the pocket. Rhoda and Debbie had matching dresses of the same fabric also with their names embroidered above the pocket. While living in Germany John and Rhoda toured much of Europe with the 5 kids in tow, often in their matching gingham outfits. Surely no one would have guessed that they were tourists!

Rhoda was a woman of many talents. Not only was she a fabulous seamstress, but her knitting and crocheting were nearly legendary. Her kids and grandkids grew up with hand knitted mittens, slippers and sweaters. Each grandchild received a handmade afghan from grandma Hamm upon their graduation from High School. Rhoda participated in most of the craft fads of the day. In the 60’s decoupage was all the rage, in the 60’s and 70’s she delighted in oil painting. Macramé was also a hit in the 70’s. If something could be made out of macramé, mom probably made it, lamps, tables and window coverings to name a few. Rhoda was known to be a wonderful cook and hostess and loved to entertain family, friends and even strangers in her home. She was an avid reader, had a marvelous sense of humor and loved to play card games sometimes late into the night. Throughout her life her family, friends, neighbors and strangers were blessed by her generosity. She was an amazing friend and kept in touch with pals from her high school days and Air Force travels all throughout her life.

Though John was the one in the military earning medals and awards for his service, it was Rhoda who kept the home fires burning during his many deployments including tours in Korea and Vietnam during those wars. Mom was a capable and dedicated manager of the family in dad’s frequent absences. She endured physical and emotional stresses that would undo a lesser woman. One of her favorite sayings was, “I’m a tough ole’ Swede!” and that she was.

Among her many life adventures were trips to the Holy Land, traveling above the Arctic Circle, touring Australia, and American Samoa, driving the Al-Can highway (before it was paved), touring the Maritime Provinces and the Inland passage. While John was stationed in Guam, at the end of the Vietnam era, Rhoda served tirelessly cooking and serving meals during the evacuation of over 100,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees, who came through Guam on their way stateside.

Rhoda was a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian in the truest sense. Over the years she opened her home to Good News Clubs for children, women’s and couple’s Bible studies, and always served in the churches she attended, most commonly as a children’s Sunday School teacher. Our lives were enriched, and no doubt protected to some extent by Rhoda and John who began each day reading the Scriptures and praying together for their children, extended family and friends.

In their retirement years, Rhoda and John enjoyed many adventures traveling with the Good Sam club. But mostly they enjoyed visiting their children and grandkids who were scattered across the country. They made every effort to be at their grandchildren’s special occasions. Rhoda remembered everyone’s birthday and Anniversary well into her 80’s when memory loss began to take its toll.

Rhoda and John moved to Grangeville in 2010 to be close to daughter, Debbie and her husband,
Brent who moved in with them in 2011 to help with care giving. John passed away in the fall of 2013, they had been married 68 years.

As Rhoda’s dementia increased, she would often get anxious and want to “go home.” She was longing for something beyond what we could give. But even up to the last couple of weeks of her life you could always coax a smile and get a warm hug. Momma’s memory failed her in every aspect of her life save one. She loved the hymns of the church, and the words would come back to her like old friends when we would sing together. It was a source of joy and encouragement right up to her last days. Mom’s desire to “go home,” was realized as she completed her life’s many adventures and stepped into Heaven, finally HOME. “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master.”

Rhoda was preceded in death by her parents, siblings, husband John, 2 great grandsons, and many time friends.

She is survived by her 5 children, Michael (Nancy) Clinton, Mo; David (Mindy) Kailua, HI; Tom (Linda) Glendale, AZ; Mark (Brenda) Casper, WY; and Debra (Brent) Grangeville, ID, 16 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and many who were privileged to call her friend.

The family would like to express our special thanks to Keturah Engbretson who has been a precious care giver and friend to Rhoda for the past 7 years. Amber Chicane and Danielle Reilly have also been invaluable caregivers and friends. We simply could not have kept mom at home and cared for her without the dedicated help and love of these compassionate women who are now like family to us. We also thank Dr. Griffis and the Hospice team for their care of mom over the years and their encouragement to us as caregivers.

A service of remembrance will be held at Blackmer Funeral Home on Saturday Oct. 16, 1:00 pm followed by internment at Prairie View Cemetery. All are welcome. Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville. Send condolences to the family to blackmerfuneralhome.com.

A more extensive memorial service will be held next summer when family can all be here. Memorials are suggested to the charity of your choice.

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