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A Department Perspective on the Passing of Jim Hammond

This piece was read at Dr. Hammond’s funeral. The author wanted to remain anonymous.
A Department Perspective on the Passing of Jim Hammond

Dr. James J. Hammond

October 7, 2016

Regarding the Plant Sciences Department of NDSU, the reaction is, “What are we going to do without Dr. Jim Hammond!” He was extremely vital to the Department in so many ways. Many said, “Jim would never retire.” Well, Jim, we never thought we would lose you this soon or this way.

There are three words which come to mind regarding Jim: Respect, Brilliance, and Humility.

Respect: Whether it be faculty, graduate students, technicians, or secretaries, all had respect for Jim regarding his ability to advise or relying upon him to keep the Department running. He would sit with students, trying to figure out their analysis or design of experiments to achieve the best and correct results. It was amazing how many computers he fixed after a colleague would come to him saying, “My computer doesn’t work,” or “I think I have a virus on my computer.” He was always available and would say, “I’ll be at your office in a few minutes or this afternoon.”

Brilliance: There are very few people possessing the brilliance that Jim had.  Whether it was the latest advances in statistics, new technologies, or advising the newest bioinformaticists in the Department, his brilliance was in evidence. Jim was asked to be the Technical Editor for Statistics for the Agronomy Journal, the most prestigious agricultural journal in the world. His brilliance was also evident in his Flax Project. Breeding new flax varieties required expertise and a sense of what North Dakota producers needed for the future. He had a vision for that future when a decision was made to go ahead with the unique “Golden Flax.”  When standing in front of that line in yield trials, he shrugged his shoulders and said “Let’s go for it!!” He recently released “Gold ND” to producers in 2014. With the help of Lyle Lindberg, whose work spans more than 40 years, and with the incredible help of Kreg Kercher, the program will go on and be successful.

Humility: Even though Jim was brilliant in many ways, when he advised students or faculty, he did it such a way to explain in detail the experimental design, analysis, and interpretation of that data. He showed humility when expressing his opinions to other people, not treading on their opinions or thoughts on any subject. In his letters or emails to administrators he would express a well-thought-out opinion. However, they knew Jim and would try their best to understand that his statements were pointed suggestions or advisements explained in his most humble way. Jim respected hard work and success of other people and expressed his appreciation. We will miss that interaction.

We can see Jim right now in Heaven, chatting and having a cup of coffee with Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, the Father of Statistics, with children running all around him and holding a baby. We will all miss him so much.

Click here to read "In Memory of Dr. James J. Hammond".

The full obituary can be found at!/Obituary.

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