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Lindquist Funeral Home

1 Mayberry Ln, Yarmouth, ME

OBITUARY

Donald Henry Hamalainen

November 21, 1943August 29, 2019
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Donald Hamalainen

Fondly known as Mr. Ham, Hamster, and Hammie, Donald Henry Hamalainen, 75, of Yarmouth, ME, passed away peacefully in the comfort of his home on August 29, 2019. He succumbed to an aggressive form of Parkinson’s after a long, brave struggle surrounded by his loving family.

Don was born to Dorothy and David Hamalainen of W. Rockport, ME on 11/21/43. He graduated from Rockport High School in 1962 and the former Gorham State Teachers College in 1966 earning a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. During his time in college he met his future wife, Carol Donovan of Stonington, who shared his love of music.

Don began his teaching career in Old Orchard Beach and served as music director from 1966-‘71. During this time, he was instrumental in the initiation and promotion of the Stage Band ensemble format. A born performer and showman, Ham played Hammond organ in a 4-person combo, gigging at various locales throughout southern Maine. Daughters Beth and Bonnie were born during this period; as a dear friend wrote, “Don was outnumbered from this point on.”

It was off to The County (Aroostook) for new adventures in 1971 where he built a strong concert and stage band program in Fort Fairfield. Highlights included welcoming former President Nixon to Loring Air Force Base and winning his division’s Stage Band State Title in 1981. Don’s extracurricular activities included serving as organist and choir director at St. Denis Catholic Church, driving a farm truck during potato harvest, and gigging at the Aroostook Valley Country Club. Don took the family camping in the Canadian provinces and snowmobiled and ice-fished avidly. He and Carol established lifelong friendships with many during this active and memorable ten-year span.

In 1981 Don headed south again serving as middle- and high school band instructor at Yarmouth. Over the course of 3 years he grew the concert band from less than 20 to over 60 members and, once again, started a stage band. He was a proud baritone in the Sacred Heart Church choir and began his second career as commercial landscape gardener (Ham’s Green Thumb). Whenever possible, there was always boating and fishing. He spent the remaining 9 years of his teaching career at Gray-New Gloucester where he continued his focus with concert- and stage bands, performed annually at Old Home Days, and expanded his circle of friends.

After retiring from teaching, Don took Ham’s Green Thumb to the next level tending commercial properties in Yarmouth, Freeport, and Topsham. During the ‘90s Don fished and camped, performed with the Sacred Heart Church Choir twice internationally, and acquired the second love of his life: a 1970 Olds Cutlass Convertible which he enjoyed showing off in the Freeport 4th of July and Yarmouth Clam Festival parades. In the 2000s, Don and Carol rediscovered their musical roots and joined the Greater Freeport Community Chorus (GFCC). Grandchildren Lucia and Andrew got to play with Grampie – camping at Lake Saint George, riding the mower around the garden, driving in parades, and eating shedders. An important part of Don’s routine for 18 years was attending weekly meetings first in Brunswick and then on Tuttle Road, Cumberland. Don’s recent 9+year battle with a debilitating form of Parkinson’s eventually deprived him of his ability to play music, walk, and even talk. Fortunately, he was able to retain his wonderful smile for most of that time and his sense of humor until the very end. He will be forever remembered for his stories, broad grin, and deep laughter.

Don was predeceased by his parents, Dot and David Hamalainen, and sister-in-law Jean Hamalainen. Ham is survived by his loving wife of 54 years Carol; his two daughters, Beth Smithson and her husband Kevin, Bonnie Hamalainen and her wife Jamie Barnett; two grandchildren, Lucia Smithson and Andrew Smithson; brother Robert Hamalainen and wife Pat; nephew Dan (Maureen and children), niece Anita (Scott and children), and nephew Jimmy (Yami and children); and several cousins.

The Hamalainen family wishes to express their sincere thanks to the many who assisted, loved, and cared for Don: VNA Homecare and Hospice – Vanessa and Jimmy; caregivers Hollie and Catherine; David and other neighbors; Knights of Columbus and church family. We will be forever grateful.

In lieu of flowers people may make a donation in Don’s honor to the Greater Freeport Community Chorus, P.O. Box 51, Freeport, ME (checks only), or a local musical organization, animal shelter, or biomedical research organization of your choice.

  • FAMILY

  • David Hamalainen, Father
  • Dorothy Hamalainen, Mother
  • Carol Hamalainen, Wife
  • Beth Smithson, Daughter
  • Kevin Smithson, Son-in-law
  • Bonnie Hamalainen, Daughter
  • Jamie Barnett, Daughter-in-law
  • Lucia Smithson, Granddaughter
  • Andrew Smithson, Grandson
  • Robert Hamalainen, Brother
  • Pat Hamalainen, Sister-in-law
  • nephew Dan (Maureen and children), niece Anita (Scott and children), and nephew Jimmy (Yami and children); and several cousins

Services

  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, September 7, 2019

Memories

Donald Henry Hamalainen

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Suzanne Beaulieu Hall

September 7, 2019

Donald was my second cousin. I have many fond memories of him at my Aunt Dot's and Uncle David's. I was so sorry to hear of his passing. Suzanne Hall

Brenda Curry

September 7, 2019

Thank you Mr. Ham for extending our music program at Yarmouth High School into such a magical way. Whether you were conducting choir and accompanying everyone or pushing us to our limits of our abilities - you were, and will always remain, the consummate musician, teacher and friend. Had it not been for you I would not have attended the Boston Conservatory of Music, studied at Berklee School of Music or the McClosky Vocal Therapy Institute and when I lost the ability to play my flute professionally, thanks to you getting me involved in choir, I was able to transition to singing. Lord, it is "hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way...." and yes, you are perfect my friend. God speed and thank you. How lucky we are to know music and for you to have moved us forward in our learning of it .

Joanne Savage (Pettengill)

September 6, 2019

Mr. Ham was our Music Appreciation teacher in junior high. It was a required class, but we ended up learning a lot. I remember the time we we learning about musical instruments from the past. He brought us in a black tube that we learned was an old phonograph record. We all thought that was pretty cool at the time. RIP Mr. Ham.

Carole Dunbar Millett

September 6, 2019

Carol, my sincere condolences to you and your family. I have fond memories of both you and Don from our days at Gorham State Teachers College. What wonderful memories you and Don shared.

Craig Kimball

September 5, 2019

Sincere condolences to Mr. Ham’s family.
We have fond memories.

Craig Kimball
Pres. OOBHS Class of 1969

Janet Theriault

September 5, 2019

Carol and Family,
It was a happy day for the Greater Freeport Community Chorus when Don (and you!) joined us. His extensive musical experience was a benefit to the group for sure. It was difficult watching as his illness steadily chipped away at what was such an important part of his musical life (and soul). Still, having him attend our concerts no matter what was heartening and we could feel his support! Can still see the "thumbs up" signal from the audience! Loved looking at the family photos from his full and busy life. Ed and I send our deepest sympathy to you all.
Janet

Donald Banks

September 5, 2019

Many great thoughts on Mr. Ham. Played trumpet for him in High School (Fort Fairfield) band and stageband. Traveled the state and Canada with our entourage. Tormented him daily with gags and joking around. He loved to laugh. Sad day but he is performing on the big stage now. Makes me smile a little bit. God bless and keep him.

Dan Hamalainen

September 4, 2019

Jimmy McGirr

September 4, 2019

It was my very great privilege to attend to Don as a caregiver over the past four years and see him through to the end. I'm so glad he made it through to his and Carol's 54th wedding anniversary before he passed. We shared a strong simpatico and I came to love Don and his family. He had a very hard row to hoe as his disease progressed and he faced it with astounding courage and humor. He was always appreciative of a good randy joke and I felt great if I could get him laughing. Through a large part of my time with Don he could not really communicate verbally but we could understand each other well nonetheless. I learned a great deal from him about perseverance and bravery and family love. I will always remember and miss him yet be thankful he is free of the earthly body that would no longer obey. His spirit can soar.

Patti & Brian Bicknell

September 4, 2019

Ham brought his inimitable showman style to Yarmouth and revitalized our music program .
The Bicknell family remembers him fondly and sends hugs to Carol, Beth and Bonnie.

FROM THE FAMILY
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