Sunday, 19 May 2024

Millie Ann (Irwin) Hammes: A life lived with love and laughter

Millie Ann Hammes. Photo from Judy Wink.

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — Born on a crisp winter day at St. Helena Hospital on Feb. 19, 1957, Millie Ann (Irwin) Hammes entered the world as a source of pure joy to her parents John Daniel Irwin and Ethel Elizabeth “Betty” (Strickler) Irwin.

She spent her formative years in the small, picturesque town of Middletown, California, where her spirit of adventure and deep friendships began to flourish.

Graduating from Middletown High School in 1974, Millie set off to make her mark on the world and attended Yuba College in Marysville for two years. Graduating with her degree in hand was just the beginning of a remarkable voyage.

In January 1978, Millie embarked on a lifelong journey as she married the love of her life, Richard A. Hammes. Their marriage spanned an impressive 45 years, a testament to the strength of their bond and the depth of their connection.

Together, they embraced many adventures with open hearts and created memories that would forever define their shared story. It was these memories that were a source of laughter and smiles during the last months of her life as they reminisced about the big life they had lived together.

In her professional life, Millie excelled in the world of finance and management. She shared her expertise for 15 years at Clearlake National Bank, where she ascended from Assistant controller to chief financial officer, followed by over a decade at Jonas Energy, and most recently, Highlands Water Co. in Clearlake. Her dedication and leadership have left a lasting imprint on the businesses and the friendships she made in the process.

Millie and Dick lived most of their married life in Hidden Valley Lake, California, where they met many of their longtime friends whom they traveled with and shared many of their adventures.

But Millie's impact extended far beyond her immediate circle. Her kindness, humor, generosity and thoughtfulness endeared her to many in this small community and beyond, making her a beloved friend to all who had the privilege of knowing her.

Tragically, on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, Millie's voyage on this earth came to an end as she peacefully passed away in the embrace of her family within the walls of the Adventist Health Clear Lake Hospital.

The last of many months of suffering were finally over for both Millie and Dick. The love and warmth that surrounded her in those final days were a reflection of the vibrant life she had led, a life that touched countless hearts.

The last few years had been a challenging period for Millie and Dick, testing their strength and conviction in ways unimaginable. Through it all, Dick's unwavering dedication to Millie's well-being shone as a beacon of love for all who loved her to see. His dedication was a testament to the depth of their bond and a reflection of the enduring love they shared.

Millie's memory lives on in the hearts of her devoted husband, Richard "Dick" Hammes, who stood by her side for all these many years.

She is also survived by her sister and best friend, Sylvia Jean (Irwin) Wink, who shared a lifetime of laughter, secrets and unbreakable bonds, and her brother John Dale Irwin Sr. Her spirit and legacy continue through several nieces and nephews, many in-laws, and friends who were like family to her.

Millie's passing leaves a void that can never truly be filled, yet her spirit continues to shine through all the cherished memories she leaves in all of our hearts. She is now reunited with her parents and her sister, Judith (Irwin) Cunningham, who preceded her in death.

Millie leaves behind a legacy of love, laughter and an unwavering spirit. She touched the lives of many, and her memory will forever remind us of the power of love and the beauty of a life well-lived.

As we mourn her passing, let us also be grateful for the deep impact she had on everyone fortunate enough to know her, and that she is now at peace.

A celebration of her life will be held at the Greenview Restaurant in Hidden Valley Lake on Sept. 30 from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity in Millie’s memory.

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