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Saturday, July 8, 2023
1:00 - 3:00pm (Eastern time)
Doris Hammett, age 99, died on Thursday, June 22, 2023.
Doris Marie Bixby was born in rural Kansas on May 26, 1924. She was the oldest of three daughters. Her parents were Benjamin Parker Bixby, a country doctor, and Ruth Valeria Wickham Bixby, a nurse. Her younger sisters were Elizabeth Cornelia Bixby (McKenzie) and Abigail Lois Bixby (Calvin), both now deceased.
She attended a school in Kansas during the Depression’s dust bowl years where she graduated as Valedictorian in 1942. She was on the tennis, basketball, and debate teams during high school. She went on to the University of Kansas (UK) and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1945, Phi
Dr. Doris interned at the University of Iowa Hospital, Iowa City, where she met Frank Hammett, a southerner from Georgia. They married on July 3, 1949. During their first years of marriage, they were separated for an extended period, as Frank served as an Army Captain in the Korean War in a surgery field hospital. During this time, Doris
Together they established
a medical practice on East Street. They moved their practice to Broadview Drive. Frank did anesthesia in the morning at the hospital, while Doris practiced pediatrics in the office. In the afternoon, Frank took over the office and practiced family medicine. In the afternoon, Doris focused on raising three children and Frank, meanwhile, took over the office and practiced family medicine. This worked well until anesthesia became full-time for Frank later in his career and Doris expanded her pediatric hours.
In 1963, Rubye Bryson, Director of the Haywood Health Department, and Doris spearheaded a drive for a county-wide polio immunization blitz. If you remember swallowing a vaccine sugar cube as a child in the early 1960s, then you benefited from her efforts.
In addition, if you or your children were screened before entering school in the state of North Carolina, you were impacted by Doris’s actions. Doris instituted the very first school readiness program in the state. She had recognized that if a child’s hearing, vision, dental, speech and developmental problems were not identified early and addressed then the child would not effectively engage with classroom learning. This practice was so effective that it was instituted state-wide.
Doris was an extraordinary mother, always patient but clearly setting high expectations through her examples and life lessons. The three children went on to very different careers; Karen as a teacher and school administrator, now retired on Fines Creek; Jim as a National Park Service superintendent retired in John Day, Oregon; and Kristen, as a veterinarian, semi-retired and living in Waynesville. Doris also had three grandchildren and four great grandchildren at the time of her death.
Doris had a life-long love of horses, and she shared that with all three of her children, often taking them on trips into Cataloochee to ride and camp. Doris and Frank also hiked many of the trails in the park, backpacking together, and later with Doris riding a horse and Frank hiking. They had many wonderful adventures involving bears, flooded tents, the “wild man” of Cataloochee, and various antics of the horses and riders.
After a fall from a horse in 1971 Doris suffered a brain injury. Her protective headgear saved her life. She recovered and became a national leader in advocating for protective head gear for all riders and in developing the standards for helmets. She lectured and wrote articles advocating the use of protective head gear for all equestrians and was nationally recognized for this effort.
Throughout her life, Doris and Frank never forgot the lessons of the Great Depression. They lived modestly and invested wisely. With Frank, and by herself after he died, Doris gave substantial funding toward education. She gave scholarships for Haywood students to attend Haywood Community College, funding to Haywood County Public Schools focusing on Pre-K and academic achievement, and to Waynesville First Methodist Church’s early childhood and after-school programs. She also gifted to advance trails and greenway projects in Haywood County.
After retirement, Doris and Frank actively travelled for several years, going to New Zealand and taking several horseback trips into the Uncompahgre Wilderness in southern Colorado. After 1995, Frank was living with Parkinson’s Disease, and they elected to move to Givens Estates in Asheville where they lived until his death in 2009.
In 2011, Doris married Tom Flynn, a high school sweetheart who had also recently lost his spouse. They lived at Givens until Tom’s death in 2015.
In 2019, Doris moved to Smoky Mountain Health and Rehabilitation Center to be closer to her Waynesville family. She remained there until her death, receiving excellent and compassionate care.
Frank often said that Doris never could pass up a committee meeting or an issue needing to be addressed and her children remember the constant sound of her typewriter hammering out one more letter to her congressman, state/federal official, or a letter to the editor of the Mountaineer or Citizen Times.
What follows is a very long list of Doris’ accomplishments, listed, to the best of our ability, but not necessarily in chronological order.
Some of her awards over the years:
A celebration of Dr. Doris’s life will be held 1:00 until 3:00 on Saturday, July 8, 2023 in the Christian Growth Center of First United Methodist Church of Waynesville.
Memorial gifts may be made to First United Methodist Church, PO Box 838, Waynesville, NC 28786 (Child development program, after-school program); Haywood County Schools Foundation, 1233 North Main Street, Waynesville, NC 28786; or Haywood Community College Foundation, Haywood Community College, 185 Freedlander Dr, Clyde NC 28721.