William “Willie” Anderson Hammett, 79, of DeLand, Florida, went peacefully to be with the Lord on May 24, 2020. He was born in Johnson City, TN and moved to Montgomery, AL as a young boy. The oldest of 4 boys who all excelled in music, he began playing the trumpet at the age of 12 in the school band, launching an amazing career in music performance as a jazz trumpet player.
He played in the band throughout college and graduated from Auburn University, 1963, in Music Education. While at Auburn, he played lead trumpet with the Auburn Knights Jazz Band and AU Brass Choir and sang tenor in the AU Chorus.
He completed his Master’s degree in Music Education from Troy University, 1982, and was a member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia fraternity.
He taught as a band director in Haleyville, AL and throughout Georgia, playing weekend gigs with jazz dance bands until his retirement from teaching. He wrote many marches over the years with a few being published.
He retired to St. Simons Island, GA and played with the Sea Island Orchestra at The Cloister for 20+ years, all the while, continuing to teach private music lessons. Upon retiring from Sea Island, he was a featured guest trumpet soloist on 6 cruises to the Caribbean with the Les DeMerle Big Band and a European cruise with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra.
Willie loved to entertain people with his trumpet playing and was extremely active in his community playing at his church and for weddings and patriotic services. He faithfully played for Frederica Academy Derby Day, Taps at Twilight Memorial Day Services and military funerals.
He played 25 years as principal trumpet with the Golden Isles Community Band, 30 years with
Coastal Symphony of Georgia, also with Atlanta Pops Orchestra, Valdosta, Macon and Columbus Symphonies, Ringling Brothers Circus, Shrine Circus, Holiday on Ice, Amelia Island Jazz Festival, Jekyll Island Big Band, toured with Ted Weems Orchestra, and many other groups over his career. He was proud to be on YouTube for future generations to enjoy, including being a guest conductor for the Parris Island Marine Corps Band.
Willie was an avid photographer, entering several local contests. He loved living on the Island, riding his bike and photographing the local wildlife, the lighthouse and the marshes of Glynn County.
Willie was thankful to have the opportunity to work with many great artists such as Doc Severinsen, Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson and so many more, as well as meeting two US Presidents. He credited Dr. John M. Long, of Robert E. Lee High and Troy University, and Dr. Wilber F. “Bodie” Hinton of Auburn University, for instilling a love of music and teaching him lessons he continued to use in his 67 years as a musician. He was humbled to know he influenced so many in music professions and that lives were changed through the joy and love of music.
Willie relocated to DeLand, FL in 2018 where he was able to spend more time with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed spending that time with family and playing in the orchestra at Stetson Baptist Church with his daughter.
Willie was predeceased by his parents, George and Opal Hammett and his wife, Janet Hammett, whom he met while working at The Cloister.
Survivors include his 3 children: Leassia (Wayne) Turner, DeLand, FL; David (Elizabeth) Hammett, Valdosta, GA; and Lari Anne Mazzitello, Roseville, MN; 9 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; 3 brothers: George (Cherry) Hammett, Montgomery, AL; Ken (Judy) Hammett, Stone Mountain, GA; and Tom (Faye) Hammett, Hixson, TN; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A private service will be held for immediate family in Quitman, Georgia. Maxwell-Purvis Funeral Home of Quitman is in charge.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations can be made to either: First Baptist Church 1311 Union Street Brunswick, GA 31520 ATTN: Music Program OR TO Stetson Baptist Church 1025 W. Minnesota Ave. DeLand, FL 32720 ATTN: Music Program.
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