Friday, July 12, 2024




Lakewood Rotarian Bob Hammar and his wife Mary are legendary donors to the Rotary Foundation. In fact, when it comes to being Paul Harris Fellows, one could even say it’s a family affair. 

Bob joined Rotary on April 20, 1978, and thanks to his generous giving to the Foundation, he earned his first Paul Harris Fellow a little less than 10 years later in March of 1988. “We had had a banner business year,” says Bob, “and we wanted to give back in a way that had the biggest impact. The Rotary Foundation fit the bill.” From there, he and his wife Mary reached Major Donor Levels I, II, and III all in one year—2010.

When asked, “Why Rotary?” Bob was enthusiastic about where he and Mary chose to give. “It matters greatly to Mary and me that the Rotary Foundation uses 100% of its donations for worthy projects, not overhead.” 

Bob and Mary’s generosity to the Foundation was made possible by their business success. Their small business, K Street (now Martin Luther King Way) Department Store, became Hammar’s Uniforms after they moved the uniform section to the Tacoma Mall. Over time they expanded to an 8-store operation called Hammar’s Stores, Ltd. At their peak, they had 50 employees, 100% of whom were female, except for an occasional truck driver.

Bob is proud of his role in employing females, adding another reason he and Mary picked the Rotary Foundation for their gifts: “We wanted to give to an organization that does not discriminate in any way.”

Thanks to his connections in the uniforms-with-embroidered-names business, Bob has also contributed to Lakewood Rotary by running its “Rotary store.” 

Most Lakewood Rotarians have at least one clothing item with “Lakewood Rotary” embroidered on it that they bought from the club’s store run by Bob. 

And like all good Rotarians, Bob was eager to make his contribution when the time came for our annual auctions. He and Mary regularly donated two weeks at their vacation home in Tahiti to the auction. 

“Every year, those weeks in French Polynesia were a hot auction item,” says Lakewood Rotary President Jason Whalen. “The bidding would get intense!” 

Bob smiles to himself when asked how much the stay at their Tahiti vacation home raised for Rotary. He estimates about $270,000 was raised over all the years he and Mary donated it.

Both the Rotary store and the Tahitian vacation donation are parts of Bob’s contribution to Lakewood Rotary, but it is really Bob and Mary’s sustained generosity to the Foundation for which they are best known to his club’s members.

In addition to their Major Donor status, they have contributed either financially or via points so that each of their children—Taryn, Paige, Brad, and Darcy—are now Paul Harris Fellows. 

But Bob and Mary didn’t stop there. They have now contributed to the Foundation so that all of their grandchildren— Daniel, Marya, Harriett, Molly, and Fiona —are also Paul Harris Fellows. Yes, that’s 11 Fellows in one family!

Lakewood Rotary Foundation Chair, Steve Enquist, says, “Bob and Mary Hammar have raised the bar for giving in a club that is known for its generosity to the Foundation. Of Lakewood Rotary’s 121 active members, 90 are Paul Harris Fellows and 14 are Major Donors. 

But no one else has 11 Paul Harris Fellows in one family.”

Steve adds that the Hammar family’s generosity to the Foundation shows no sign of stopping any time soon. In fact, they welcomed their first great-grandchild on March 29, 2023.

Bob says, “Mary and I will celebrate Alexander Giovanni by making him a Paul Harris Fellow, too. Then we’ll be an even dozen Fellows in the Hammar family.”  

What a legacy of giving!

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