Paul Bass, June 30, 2021, New Haven Independent
[Paul Hammer has been an integral part of the New Haven community for decades. He was in peace groups, justice groups, did prison reform organizing, was involved with theater, environmental groups, homeless and mental health advocacy, etc. Many PAR readers have worked with him at one time or another. He died by suicide on June 27. Below are excerpts of the article posted at newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/paul_hammer_dies_at_64]
Paul was 64, and touched the lives of innumerable New Haveners over the last 40-plus years. He was much loved, and his death has sparked an outpouring of tributes.
Paul wanted people to know he struggled with mental illness so that others in similar straits could find support and help. He spoke about a previous suicide attempt off East Rock to the Register’s Randall Beach with that in mind.
Paul also wanted kids to ride bikes safely. He wanted immigrants to find a welcoming new home in New Haven. He wanted community theater to thrive. He wanted to see an end to violence in wars abroad and violence in the street wars at home. He wanted to help people stay out of prison. He dedicated his life to working with others to help make that happen, and found daily joy in doing so.
Paul endeared himself to all of us with his warmth, openness, energy, and enthusiasm; with his love of music, politics, community, all wrapped in a smile.
Over the years Paul has continually approached me — and probably hundreds if not thousands of others around town — with his latest urgent idea for a special project. His advocacy never involved promoting himself. It never involved competing with others for attention or power. It was always about spreading caring and love, sprinkled with humor and melody, envisioning a better world. I can’t remember Paul ever insulting or getting angry at anyone. It was people like Paul, I came to realize, who rather than making headlines, make cities like New Haven warm, lively, caring communities.
This past April he helped the Friends of Kensington Playground with a bicycle event for kids. As usual, he was pitching in with ideas and hustle. He connected organizers with a donor to get all the kids free bikes. Then he conducted bike safety training for the kids at the event.
“He was in his element,” recalled one of the event’s organizers, Paul’s lifelong friend Patricia Wallace. “Nobody had a better time that day.”
(Note: The suicide prevention hotline number is (800) 273-8255.)
[Paul’s Facebook page remains active for friends to post their photos and stories about him. The Arts Paper also wrote about Paul. You can view that article here:
The celebration of Paul Hammer’s life that was scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 19, 3 p.m. has been postponed and will likely take place in April 2022. Details to be announced.
(See this link for more information https://par-newhaven.org/2021/09/04/paul-hammer-memorial-celebration-postponed-new-spring-date-tbd)
On Sept. 19, Elm City Cycling will honor Paul with a bike tour. Meet at the flagpole on the New Haven Green at 1 p.m. The bike ride will finish at the Unitarian Society.
On Saturday, Oct. 16, 3 p.m., New Haven Friends Meeting will host a Quaker Memorial Meeting for Paul by Zoom, and held in the manner of Friends – that is, silent waiting worship until each person is moved by Spirit to give a message. Details will be in the next issue of the PAR newsletter.