Holmes Hammett passes away
Loss of longtime Chamber director ‘ left a hole in our community’
Holmes Hammett, Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, died unexpectedly some time overnight Tuesday. Hammett was described as the face of West Memphis and served as its ambassador from his post at the chamber for a generation.
Hammett had been a proud native of Phillips County but had embraced the city of West Memphis wholeheartedly. Hammett directed the local business organization which officially served the city with economic growth consulting. A heavy-hearted Chamber President Debra West expressed profound sadness in announcing his passing.
“There was no greater supporter of West Memphis and Crittenden County,” said West. “From his work on various boards and commissions to his genuine love for Blue Devil and Greyhound athletics, Holmes was passionate about our city and generous beyond measure, giving of his time, his effort and his money to various causes he deeply cared about – and none more-so than the West Memphis Chamber of Commerce. His death left a hole in our community and in our hearts that will be very difficult to fill.”
Mayor Bill Johnson found words hard to come by as he provided a retrospective on Hammett. Their public careers overlapped in time and intertwined with community business.
“He was at the chamber when I came into office in 1999,” said Johnson. “How do you make a statement about Holmes Hammett in a few words? He has been such a fantastic contributor to the community its impossible to sum it up. I do not know anyone who has worked harder and devoted more time, been at more events in the city than Holmes. He was like the energizer bunny, he was everywhere. We will miss him terribly.”
Marion Chamber President Tracy Brick was stunned with the news of Hammett’s death but expressed professional admiration for his exemplary leadership in the sister city chamber.
“I am crushed,” said Brick. “He was the face of West Memphis. Whenever you thought of any kind of event, you thought of Holmes. He had a heart of gold and such a soft spot for his city. He did an excellent
job. The West Memphis
chamber ran like a well oiled machine. I strive to be more like him with the way he was with the board of directors, his fund raising, and his members.”
Former city mayor and now State Senator Keith Ingram had visited Holmes Tuesday afternoon. He called Hammett and ambassador and mentor.
“He adopted this as his home town and became the fabric of West Memphis,” said Ingram. “Holmes was the finest chamber director we’ve ever had. There was never anyone more committed in associating with his community. If there was an event going on in West Memphis, Holmes was in attendance. People from all walks of life loved Holmes. He was a tremendous ambassador for our community. Through the leadership classes at the chamber he mentored untold numbers of individuals that are a part of the fabric of our business community because of Holmes Hammett’s influence. He always had feedback on what our community needed. He is irreplaceable. I don’t know anyone who could fill his shoes. I’m just so sadden, heartbroken.”
West indicated funeral plans remained pending and called for prayer.
“Please keep Holmes’ family, friends, and his executive assistant in your thoughts and prayers,” she said. “Now and in the days to come.”
By John Rech