It is with profound sadness that we share the news of the passing of Rosalba Hammann. Rosie was a teacher, world traveler, linguist, gardener, artist, and matriarch of innumerable talents. Rosie passed away Wednesday morning in the comfort of her home surrounded by her family. She was 84 years old.
Rosie Hammann was a vibrant light to all who knew her. She was known as a beacon of faith who was devoted to her family and friends. This tiny vivacious lady was a remarkable soul with a life that reads like a movie. The formation of this formidable woman began when she left her home in Bogotá, Colombia to begin her devoted life as a bride of Christ with the Order of St. Madre Laura at the age of 17, thereby beginning her adventures of missionary work for nearly 15 years. She taught primary school to Indigenous and Afro-Colombian children, learned 3 native dialects, trained as a teacher and wilderness dentist, and became a Mother Superior with the responsibility of running remote rural parishes. Her work took her from the depths of the perilous jungles in Valle del Cauca to the inhospitable arid coastlines of Caimito, traveling on horseback, muleback, bus, boat, and train. Concerned for her education and personal development, she left the order and returned home to begin her studies at the Instituto de Meyer in Bilingual Secretarial Science.
Her study of English began when she was 32 and opened the door to her international diplomatic life. While working in Bogota she met a family from the US who would contract her to assist them in their family’s move to their new home in Quito, Ecuador. Her English abilities and clever cultural know-how were a great asset to them. The father of the family soon assumed the directorship of the US Peace Corps and Rosie was also able to help volunteers in Spanish language training. Life in Quito quickly led to her meeting a young New Yorker who was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, and he became her new husband and project for the next 49 years. Her husband Tim’s work with the US Agency for International Development later took them all over the world. Rosie’s impeccable organizational skills allowed them to successfully pack, unpack and settle their family into homes in New York, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, and Thailand. She strove to raise her three daughters and successfully learned the local languages of Arabic and Thai enabling her to navigate the home countries’ cultures with enviable ease. She came to know much of Europe and the Middle East even fulfilling pilgrimages to the Holy Land twice. She somehow found the time to develop the talent of oil painting and created numerous beautiful canvases inspired by their many travels.
Traveling was the life and joy of Rosie, and her travels did not stop after Tim’s retirement in 1996 and their move to Hendersonville, NC. Their beautiful permanent home now included a large garden. Her incredible gift of nurturing and propagating ornamental plants over time flourished into 25 gorgeous flower beds. It was indeed a great sacrifice for her to put down her shovel, shake off the soil and pack up her bag again to accompany Tim on year-long contracts to Kosovo and later Macedonia. She would again become quite adept at the local languages of Albanian and Macedonian. She relished more opportunities to paint and travel in Europe. Although she even created an admirable garden while living in Kosovo, her great passion for gardening and yearning for home and family finally brought her back to Hendersonville more permanently. In all these adventures since settling back in the US, Rosie’s passion for gardening took a front seat, but her middle daughter’s family was finally settled nearby and “Grandmothering” soon became one of her favorite pastimes. However, it is debatable who enjoyed playing with toys more, Grandma or the grandkids.
She was an active parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church, taught baptismal preparation classes in Spanish, and spent time beautifying the church gardens. But the travel bug never leaves entirely. Rosie thoroughly enjoyed her recent trip to Rome in 2016 and her third pilgrimage to the Holy land in 2019. Indeed, she even expertly packed Tim and sent him off to Tanzania and Iraq, on international summertime contracts so she could stay and “play” in her garden. There, she often prayed, meditated, and contemplated Our Lord in every beautiful growing creation around her. She rushed at every opportunity to take a visiting friend or family member on a garden tour often commenting “Let me show you something,” “Come see this…” “I LOVE my garden.” We are indeed deeply blessed to have her living legacy with us as her garden will continue to be a great comfort to us in her absence.
Rosie was a plethora of knowledge and had expertise in innumerable areas. From home repair, bricklaying, carpentry, gardening, sewing, art, languages…the list is endless. For certain, her absence will create a void that can never be filled by another living person. She will be greatly missed.
She is survived by her husband Timothy Conrad Hammann, her three daughters: Martha Hammann Johnston and husband Tom, Francesca Hammann Cabrera, and husband Antonio and Sarah Hammann, along with four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She also is survived by her brother Virgilio Melo Sanchez and wife Flor Reina and many nieces and nephews in Colombia.
The funeral services will be held at 11 am on Wednesday, January 12th at Immaculate Conception Church in Hendersonville. The visitation and graveside service will be private per the family’s request.
Donations in her name may be made to Immaculate Conception Church.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church - Directions
208 7th Ave. West
Hendersonville, NC 28791
Forest Lawn Memorial Park & Mausoleum - Directions
538 Tracy Grove Road
Hendersonville, NC 28792