Obituary: John Bruce Hammond

Obituary: John Bruce Hammond

After a six-year battle with a rare form of cancer, John Hammond died peacefully while surrounded by family on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. His final days were spent at home under hospice care and marked the end of a determined battle with malignant Pheochromocytoma – a cancer of the adrenal gland. During this time, a steady stream of visitors poured through the doors of John and his wife Kerry’s home. Never without his dry wit or a big smile, John often sent well-wishers away laughing.

John was born Oct. 27, 1965 at Sibley Hospital in Washington, D.C. to Julia West and Donald B. Hammond. He grew up in Alexandria and after attending Fort Hunt High School, joined the U.S. Army. He proudly served in the 10th Mountain Division and remained in the Reserves until 1995. After completing his active duty assignment, John returned to Alexandria where he became a fixture working at Union Street Public House in Old Town Alexandria. He was well known not only by regulars and patrons, but throughout the restaurant community.

John continued to build on many of these relationships when he moved to Premium Distributors to serve as their national accounts manager. Both old and new acquaintances enjoyed working with John. “People were very comfortable with John and trusted him,” said John’s good friend and colleague at Premium, Carmine Pechie. According to Pechie much of John’s success came from his clients knowing that his “heart was as big as the outdoors” and that he truly cared about their businesses.

John was first diagnosed in fall of 2006. After complaining of persistent back pain, multiple tumors were discovered on his spine. Since then, John endured 10 surgeries including three reconstructions of his spine. Those surgeries, combined with over 30 rounds of chemotherapy, radiation treatments and countless complications might have taken the smile from anyone but not John. He never missed an opportunity to display his sense of humor or make someone smile.

While there is currently no known cure for malignant Pheochromocytoma, the medical team at the National Institutes of Health helped John fight what proved to be a ferocious and persistent disease for more than six years. Throughout these challenges, John remained positive and determined to fight a winning battle. Dr. Tito Fojo, the medical oncologist involved in John's care at the NIH recalled that from the first day he met John, “He impressed me with his courage, his sense of humor, and his ability to flow with what fate sent him.” Those traits, Fojo came to learn, defined John’s experience. He not only served as a role model for fellow patients battling the disease, but inspired his team of doctors, caregivers, friends and family with his resiliency and strength. These characteristics led Dr. Karel Pacak, director, Pheo Para Protocol, NIH and Karen Adams, Program Coordinator, NIH to recall that John was “an absolute treasure of a person.”

There were two constants during John’s experience with cancer — his determination to fight, and the unflinching devotion of his wife Kerry. Though John and Kerry had been together for many years, his cancer got in the way of their plans until they were finally able to wed Sept. 28, 2012. On that beautiful fall day, John finally married his longtime love, devoted caregiver and best friend in a beautiful ceremony on the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria.

John was many things to many people — an all-star sales and marketing man, a trusted business associate, a loyal friend, a devoted Jimmy Buffett fan, a playful son, a protective brother, a doting uncle and a loving husband. His longtime friend and neighbor Ram Todd summed up what many felt: “Thank God I knew him, he helped make me a better person.”

A celebration of John Hammond’s life will be held on Monday Jan. 28 at Columbia Firehouse Restaurant at 109 S. Saint Asaph Street, in Old Town Alexandria. The reception will take place from 12-4 p.m. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to the Pheo-Para Alliance. P.O. Box 504, Arlington VA 22216 or online at