William Wayne Hammack is being remembered as a man with a true servants heart.
Hammack, who served on the Bossier Parish Police Jury for 32 years, passed away Nov. 8 at age 75. Police Jury President Wanda Bennett (Dist. 3) said his passing was unexpected.
“It had been a long time since he felt good, but we were in denial that it would be something so serious,” Bennett said. “It was just a shock that he was so ill. I don’t think any of us doubted the doctors, but none of us saw this coming.”
She recalled the last time she saw Hammack, just days before his death. He was surrounded by his family and closest friends.
“I really feel like he knew that people were there holding his hand because they loved him,” Bennett said. “We have all been friends for such a long time, long before we were even on the [police] jury.”
Hammack was born in his grandmother’s house on Fullilove Drive. He graduated in 1959 from Bossier High School, where he toured the world as a member of their award winning band. He worked at SWEPCO where he met his future wife, Sue.
In May, 1963 he enlisted in the Coast Guard where he served until 1971. Wayne and Sue were married on November 29, 1963 in the house in which he was born. He started his own air conditioning company in 1978 for 38 years.
Hammack became a member of the Bossier Parish Police Jury in 1984 and served his community well for more than three decades.
“You have to be a people person, love your community and have a servant’s heart to serve that long in this position,” Bennett said. “Wayne was a good man and a good representative. We will miss him tremendously.”
Parish Administrator Bill Altimus called Hammack a mentor.
“Wayne was our ‘go-to’ guy on anything construction, remodeling, repairing, mechanical. He was a wizard at that stuff,” Altimus said. “He was a tremendous asset to the jury and full of knowledge. He was the guy you could call and could get us through to a successful outcome. He just knew what to do.”
Because of this, Altimus gave him the name Obi-Wan Kenobi, a legendary Jedi Master in the Star Wars series.
“He didn’t say a whole lot, but what he did say had a lot of value and I respected him for that,” Altimus said. “In my mind, he was the Jedi knight that I could call on and get counsel.”
Surprisingly though, Hammack didn’t get the reference.
“He had no clue about Star Wars,” Altimus said. “For years, I called him Obi-Wan Kenobi and he had no idea what I was talking about and I didn’t know that. Finally, he learned from his wife what the meaning behind it was.”
Hammack saw many changes in Bossier Parish, both good and bad. Altimus said he played a role in some of the bigger projects the jury has done, including the parish-wide sewer system.
Altimus said he will greatly miss Hammack, but will never forget his quiet, gentle leadership.
“I don’t know if any of us can do justice,” Altimus said. “The times he went through…the guidance he provided…he was certainly a rock for us. We knew we would come out ok if Wayne was involved in it.”
The police jury is now tasked with appointing someone to fill Hammack’s seat. Altimus said, by law, the jury has 20 days to make an appointment to fill the Dist. 11 seat.
The process will be discussed at their Nov. 16 meeting in Benton. Bennett said they will make their appointment at a specially called meeting next week.
“It will all happen fast,” she said. “In a way, that will help us to heal. We know he is looking down from heaven to see who is taking care of us and his district.”
The seat will be permanently filled during a March 2017 election.
Services for William Wayne Hammack were held Saturday, Nov. 12, at Hill Crest Memorial Chapel.