Cover photo for Dr. Doris Marie Bixby Hammett's Obituary
Dr. Doris Marie Bixby Hammett Profile Photo

Dr. Doris Marie Bixby Hammett

May 26, 1924 — June 22, 2023

Waynesville

Dr. Doris Marie Bixby Hammett

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 Beta Kappa. She was one of the earliest females admitted to the UK School of Medicine where she excelled academically, becoming a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical fraternity, earning her medical degree in 1948.

 

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 went to the Childrens Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. When Frank returned from Korea, they settled in Waynesville, North Carolina.  

 

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.  

 

  • Member North Carolina Medical Society 1951-1985 
  • Society Archives and Auxiliary Committee 1964-1966 
  • Sub Committee on Mental Retardation and Children’s Services 1966-1975 
  • Member, North Carolina Pediatric Society Liaison Committee NCAA 1976-1968 
  • President, Haywood Medical Society 1962 
  • Secretary, Haywood Medical Society 1967-1971 
  • Chair, Society Scholarship committee 1954-1976 
  • Chair, School Health Committee 1963-1971 
  • Member, Haywood County Hospital Medical Staff 1952-1985 
  • Chair, Pediatric Staff 1977, 1981, and 1985 
  • Member, Mountain Pediatric Society 1976-1985 
    • Author, numerous medical articles re. pediatric medical cases, preschool testing, and safety and injuries involving horses.  
  • Member, Haywood County Board of Health 1967-1974 
  • Director, Haywood County Mental Health Association 1960-1971 
    • Member, Haywood County Board of Education program for pre-school testing 1959-1973 
  • Director, Day Care Center and Day Care Homes 1965-1971 
  • Chair, Stop Polio immunization program 1963-1964 
  • Chair, Stop Measles immunization program 1966 
  • Physician, Haywood County Well Baby Clinic 1951-1955 
  • Pediatric Supervisory physician 1967-1985 
  • Chair of Registration, Mountaintop Medical Assembly 1954-1974 
  • Project Director, The Child, the family, and the Caregiver – bioethics 1988 
  • Editor, Haywood County Medical History Project, Heritage of Healing 1989 
    • Organizer, Citizens’ Committee for Better Schools 1958-1961 (president and vice president) 
  • Chair, Haywood County Science Seminar for gifted students 1961-1967 
  • Director, Mountain Projects EOA program, State of Franklin 1966-1972 
  • Counselor, First Methodist Church Junior High Youth Fellowship 1966-1968 
  • Sunday School Teacher, Young Adults 1963-1965 
  • Director, National Trails Council 1975-1984 
  • Coordinator, Fourth National Trails Symposium, Lake Junaluska 1977 
  • Founder, Haywood Trail Riders 1964— 
  • Member, Save Cataloochee Committee 
  • Member, North Carolina Trail Advisory Committee 1973-1981 
  • Chair, Balsam Highland Task Force, 1970-2002 
  • Director, Annual conference at Camp Hope 1988 
  • Organizer, KARE benefit trail-a-thon, 1991-1995 
  • Founder, Haywood County Pony Club, 1968 
  • Member, United States Pony Club (USPC) National Safety Committee 1979-2004 
    • Member, Committee that first established protective headgear standards of the USPC 1979 
  • Founder, American Medical Equestrian Association 1986 
  • Major funder, Haywood Community College Scholarship Trust Fund 1997- 

 

Some of her awards over the years:  

  • Woman of the Week, Asheville Citizen Times 1960 
  • Woman of the Year, Haywood County Business and Professional Women 1976 
  • Distinguished Service Award, NC Public Health Association 1976 
    • Order of the Long Leaf Pine; Governor’s award for distinguished service relating to the horse community 1981 
  • NC Outstanding Individual Trail Award 1984 
  • Balsam Highland Task Force award for leadership 1987 
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, American Riding Instructor Certification Program 
  • Founder’s Award, US Pony Club 1997 
  • A Legend, US Pony Club 2003 
  • Executive Director Award, American Equestrian Association 2002 
  • Distinguished Service Award, Mountains to the Sea Trail, 2002 
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, American Association for Horsemanship Safety 2004 
  • Philanthropist of the year, Haywood County Community Foundation 2004 

 

 

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. 

 

The care of Dr. Hammett has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Doris Marie Bixby Hammett, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, July 8, 2023

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

First United Methodist Church, Christian Growth Center

566 S. Haywood Street, Waynesville, NC 28786

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