Some people believe that everyone was created for a reason.
For much of Dr. Alfred Hamer’s life, his reason was to help gently bring new lives into this world. Throughout his career, he delivered somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 babies as a Morganton-based OB-GYN, according to a previous News Herald article.
“He enjoyed his job and felt like it was a calling for him,” said Colleen Avery, one of his former employees. “It was a calling for him. He genuinely loved what he did and caring for people. It wasn’t a business, it was a calling.”
Hamer died Monday at age 87 , but his exit of the world brought his life full circle by a special connection to his hospice nurse, Avery said.
“The nurse came in from hospice … and he said, ‘well, he delivered me 31 years ago,’” Avery said. “[Hamer] helped bring this baby gently into the world, and this man, now, is going to gently prepare him to leave this world. When he held that baby 31 years ago, he never knew how that child would affect him.”
After Hamer’s passing, Avery said she’ll be remembering him as a kind, gentle person.
“Dr. Hamer lived his life being compassionate and caring and just being a humanitarian,” Avery said. “When I see him, that’s what I think of.”
His kindness was something that shone through to his patients.
“It didn’t matter whether you had money or you didn’t, it didn’t matter if you had insurance, it didn’t matter to him if you could pay your bill,” Avery said. “If you needed help, you needed care, he would see you.”
Hamer’s kindness wasn’t something just for his private practice.
When he wasn’t delivering babies, he was likely spending time serving as an elected official.
Hamer was a city council member for upwards of 30 years, served a term on the board of county commissioners and spent six years as a school board member.
“He left an impression with me that I’ll never forget,” said Sidney Simmons, a current city councilman who served some time with Hamer on the council.
Simmons remembered Hamer as one of the nicest people he ever met.
“You have never met more of a gentleman than Alfred Hamer,” Simmons said. “He was a gentleman’s gentleman.”
Mel Cohen, a former mayor of Morganton who served with Hamer for nearly 30 years, said the same thing.
“Dr. Hamer was a gentleman’s gentleman,” Cohen said. “I have never heard him say anything ill of anyone.”
Hamer’s election as a councilman, county commissioner and to a seat on the school board was a distinguished honor, Cohen said.
“Alfred is probably the only person in Morganton to have served on the Morganton City Council, Burke County Commissioners and Burke County School Board,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he asked Hamer why he sought out election for all three of those boards.
“He said he had such a great response from the citizens of Morganton and Burke County at his medical practice, and delivered so many children to Burke County, that he wanted to give back,” Cohen said. “The way to give back was to serve people of all walks of life. To me, that was Alfred Hamer.”
Morganton was one of the things Hamer loved the most.
“He was so in love with this community of Morganton … [to serve] 28 years with me,” Cohen said. “That’s unbelieveable. Again, he just cared so much for Morganton and all the people that he wanted to continue to serve year after year after year.”
Avery recalled how Hamer would always talk about Morganton, and loved to play James Taylor’s music because Hamer said one of his relatives lived in Morganton.
“He loved this city,” Avery said. “God knows he loved Morganton. He was an advocate of Morganton.”
Hamer loved his family the most, Avery said, even though he didn’t get to be at home as much as he may have liked to be.
“His family was always on his mind,” Avery said. “The one thing I will say he loved as much of medicine and his patients was his family because we all felt like we knew his family.”
Avery said Hamer’s office was filled with photos of his family, and he loved telling stories of his kids and grandkids.
“His children and his grandchildren were always on his mind and in his heart,” Avery said.
Hamer’s dedication to service went above and beyond, Cohen said.
“If there was ever anybody in Burke County or Morganton who should be a person for the years, it would be Dr. Alfred Hamer,” Cohen said.
A memorial service for Hamer will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at First United Methodist Church in Morganton. Military honors will be provided by the U.S. Air Force. The family will greet friends in the church fellowship hall following the service.
Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 828-432-8941.