The Legacy of a Visionary

January 2, 2009

Pete Hammond exemplified InterVarsity’s commitment to campus ministry in creative and unique ways. We are grieved at his passing but thankful that his ministry touched and enriched so many lives. Pete Hammond died last week at his home, at the age of 72.

Pete joined InterVarsity staff as an area director in 1966, working in the southeastern U.S., and he was one of InterVarsity’s early advocates for multiethnic ministry. He also became the director of Evangelism and served as vice president at large.

Ministry in Daily Life
His life touched almost every aspect of InterVarsity. But most of the last two-and-a-half decades of his career, until his retirement in August of 2007, were dedicated to helping men and women discover their ministry roles through InterVarsity’s Ministry in Daily Life.

President Alec Hill recalled an evening in 2006 that was arranged for InterVarsity’s regional directors to express, in anticipation of Pete’s retirement, their appreciation of his many years of ministry. Staff member after staff member told stories in gratitude for Pete and the meeting lasted far longer than the allotted time. “So many people stood up to tell of how Pete helped to change their lives,” remembered Alec.

Senior vice president Jim Lundgren voiced what many people felt when he said, “Pete walked with me at crucial times in my life, and he’s part of the reason I’m still at InterVarsity.”

At that same meeting, Tom Boyle, director of Staff Development and Training, said, “I have a vivid memory of first meeting Pete Hammond in the fall of 1977 at InterVarsity’s Bear Trap Ranch. Pete made a comment that raising kids was easy—all you have to do is the right thing, day after day. That was the best advice my wife and I ever got for raising our kids.”

Visonary Leadership
Paula Fuller, InterVarsity’s vice president and director of multiethnic ministry, thanked Pete for his enthusiastic support for minority students. “If it weren’t for you, many of us wouldn’t even be in the room,” she said. “Bringing black and white students together in Mississippi in the sixties was courageous, bold, and visionary.”

“Thank you for teaching us to be appropriately reckless for the kingdom,” added John Terrill, then director of InterVarsity’s Professional Schools Ministry. “You inspire us to take good risks.”

“You’ve probably done more than any other person in the last 30 to 40 years to represent InterVarsity publicly,” summed up vice president Barney Ford, InterVarsity’s director of Advancement. “You’ve done it well, with great diplomacy.”

Pete and Shirley
In response, Pete had said, “Whatever that is true in what has been said about me today is mostly about the people in my life.” He thanked a number of former and current InterVarsity colleagues for their influence. But his greatest thanks went his wife Shirley. “We’ve been together a lot longer than our 49 years of official marriage,” he said. “And I’m hoping for a lot more.”

But many more years together on earth was not to be, for after an extended illness, God called Shirley home to heaven in October of 2007. So it is with a mixture of sadness from our own loss and confidence that Pete and Shirley are in heaven that we accept his death and thank God for his years of friendships and life among us.

Pete’s vision, character, and passion have inspired InterVarsity staff for a generation. We shall always remember him with fondness and respect, and we commit ourselves to perpetuating his legacy by continuing his vision for changing people’s lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

_A memorial service for Pete Hammond was held Saturday, January 10, 2009, at Christ Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin._ The family requests memorial gifts be directed to the Stewardship Commission of Christ Presbyterian Church.

Obituary from the Wisconsin State Journal