Clare County Review & Marion Press News

Faces in the Crowd: Mark Hammar

This week’s interview is with Mark Hammar who was featured a couple of years ago with his wife Deb.  In that feature part of the article centered on their retirement from Michigan Gas Company and their traveling.  I would like this feature to center on Mark’s skills in and around his workshop, his hobbies, and his outlook on life. 
Since the first article, Mark has retired as the Township Supervisor of Winterfield Township in Clare County, which is next to Marion.
Mark grew up in the Tustin Area to a family who originally came from Sweden in 1895.  His great grandfather who immigrated from Sweden had several children, one grandchild was Bill Hammar, Mark’s father.  Mark had four brothers and one sister.  Mark and his siblings attended a small country school.  
Mark told me that when the rules in Michigan changed the schools had to have grades one through 12 and his little school was consolidated.  He graduated from Marion and then spent two years at Eastern Michigan University studying chemistry. Mark transferred to Central Michigan University where he finished his bachelor’s in education majoring in industrial arts.  His studies involved everything that you would do to make something from welding to woodworking, to a machine shop.  There were even some of engineering and design classes associated with the studies involving the industrial arts. 
Mark graduated in 1975 and took a teaching job in Joliet, Illinois.  He taught school there for two years and moved to the thumb of Michigan where I taught in Akron- Fairgrove.  Mark taught there for one year and found out that it was very difficult to maintain a household on the pay that was being given.  He came back to Marion and talked to Mr. Claude Pollington and asked if he had an opening and would be interested in having him work at the machine shop.   Mark worked for Mr. Pollington for about two years.  It was at this point that Mark started working for Consumer Energy.
Mark and his first wife had three boys, Lucas, Kyle, and Cliff.  Lucas was killed in an auto crash in 1998. Both Kyle and Cliff have their own families and live in the community. Kyle owns England’s Pole Building he and has rentals properties. Cliff works for a company in Kalkaska, which lays fiber optics cables. 
MP: Tell me about you wife.
Mark: I married Debra Stephenson, Hopkins in 2004. With Debra’s two children, my two boys we are involved in their lives including many grandchildren.  After retiring from Consumers Energy and from Winterfield Township, we get to enjoy the next two generations. 
Marion Press:  Mark, tell me about the Winterfield Township Supervisor position.
Mark:  I was the supervisor before I retired from consumers.   The man who was the previous supervisor and a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in the position of trustee. I attended a board meeting and was appointed to fill the vacancy.  The supervisor died of cancer while in office shortly after.
I took the position of supervisor and remained the supervisor for 13 years.   The supervisor directs and leads the board.  This position involves so much more than the average resident realizes.  It deals with roads, ditches, invasive species, Marion Area fire board, cemetery, and many other things.
After retiring someone asked if I would miss it.  I said no, because there are good people in our community and I think we’ll be fine, this community will continue to be good hands.
I am not leaving; I’m staying here in this community. Things will always change. So, I want things to progress in a positive way. We will be fine. We live in a beautiful place, and we all strive to keep it that way.  We have DNR and Federal lands with much wildlife and beauty surrounding us.   The beauty includes the Muskegon River, Clam River, Middle Branch River and the Dishwash Creek.
MP: You mentioned that your church is important to you. Please explain. 
Mark:  We have been attending the same church for about 20 years.  When we started it was called Pisgah Heights Wesleyan and later changed to Chapel Hill Wesleyan Church.  This little church is our family.  I believe our members to be brothers and sisters.  We support one another in many ways. I have been in leadership with our church for 20 years.  People come and go for any number of reasons, but our little church is stable.
Because of my education and experience, I can attend to some of the physical maintenance areas.  Not only do we tithe monetarily, I tithe our time and expertise.
I have been at the church and have had 5 pastors.  Pastor Fall, Brian Miller, Stephen King (not the author) and Paulette Zulek.  Each brings a unique perspective. Pastor Paulette brings things from a woman’s point of view.  Then we get this guy who has been in police work all his career. That is another perspective. 
I have not found in the Bible where Jesus laughed. However, God must laugh at us when he sees us do such stupid things daily.
MP:  Now that you are fully retired and have nothing to do except work on Deb’s to-do list, tell us what you do in your spare time.
Mark:   I have a sawmill I cut a lot of lumber which includes different kinds of timber.  I have about 95 logs down there to do as soon as the weather breaks. I use some for myself, I sell some lumber. Just to see what has stored up in that tree over the years is unbelievable.
I build things myself so then I have a shop in my basement to my wife’s chagrin because there is dust even though I have a couple of vacuums.   I do some welding and I do some metal art, which includes junk or scrap. 
I have a few of those pieces around.  I just made a bunch of metal art for Christmas gifts this year.  I have made birds and frogs and that kind of stuff.   
MP:  Mark, do you have a favorite hobby?
Mark:  My favorite hobby is talking to people.  Deb and I talked to s couple we had dinner with the other day, and our conversation went on for the whole afternoon. My boy Lucas came home from college with a homework assignment to write a short story. What do I write about dad? The most important thing to most is stories about people. Take a picture of scenery and it will be thrown away. Take a photo of someone you love, and it will be kept. 
I think it is the most important thing to stay connected with other people.  Talking to people involves every facet of our life.  It involves daily concerns, illness, kids, religion, politics and just being connected. We raised some steers this last year and next year will probably raise some pigs.  We do our pig butchering and we got that well figured out.   We have chickens and a couple of horses.  We train them young, and they pulled the sleigh.  Our little farm has a garden, and it is always a fight to keep the deer out.  I planted a couple of peach trees beside the deck so every year we have some peaches.  I have built a cider press and over the last several years we have had a cider fest gathering including hayrides with up to 120 people attending.  All this farm activity provides opportunities to visit, talk and communicate with friends.
Two days a week some of us men of the church get together and have breakfast at local restaurants.   GREAT another opportunity to visit and talk to people.  We get together and talk about everything from politics, some religion, and what’s going on in life and that’s kind of fun.  We visit and support one another.  However, we do solve some of the world’s problems. We just don’t know who we should send our suggestions to. 
Deb and I take the opportunity to call on other members of our congregation.  Just last week, we called on a couple who have been absent from our worship service.  What an inexpensive thing to do and it pays the biggest dividends.  It pays to be kind with what time we have left.
MP:  Wrap everything up into one little ball, what has been the most important for you? 
Mark:  I›ve gone through a lot of turmoil from the divorce to a child dying.  Those things are probably the most dramatic that can happen in a person life.  One always says I would like to do that over.  Every moment you live you can’t do anything over, so you better be thinking about what you’re doing all the time. Life in general is precious and that’s why we should savory every moment.
MP:   Is there anything that I have not asked that you think persons in the community would like to know about you?
Mark:  To my fellow members of the community, know your neighbor.  Be active in your church, in your community, and in your government. Democracy is fragile Thomas Jefferson said.  It behooves us to be involved and contribute to the betterment of our community. LIFE IS SHORT MAKE HASTE TO BE Kind. 

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