Karl Rudolph Hammerdorfer

6/28/1936 - 4/27/2018 Mount Vernon NY

Everything’s better in New York.

The Playlist


  • El Capitan - Re-Mastered John Phillip Sousa Orchestra

    He loved these martial march tunes. They really gave him a rise!

  • Manhattan Ella Fitzgerald

    Hammer thought everything was better in NY. He called Manhattan his favorite island. "If you can't find it in Manhattan, than it doesn't exist," he'd say.

  • The Sounds of Silence Simon & Garfunkel

    Hammer just loved Simon and Garfunkel in the 70s! He also believed "children should be seen and not heard."

  • On the Road Again Willie Nelson

    He loved to travel, to drive to new places, to be on the road.

  • Cracklin' Rosie Neil Diamond

    Huge Neil Diamond fan. It's the only concert I remember him going to.

  • Les Preludes Franz Liszt

    He used to blast classical music from his JBLs, and this was a favorite of his. I still have those Speakers need to get them re-coned. We listened to a lot of good music on those speakers .

  • Mona Lisa Nat King Cole

    His kids remember him singing sweetly to NKC. Hammer was listening to Nat King Cole when he passed on.

  • Old Dogs, Children And Watermelon Wine Tom T. Hall

    For a New Yorker, he sure did go through a strong country and western phase.

  • Get Ready Rare Earth

    He used to jam to this song back in the 60s.

  • The US Air Force Song (Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder) - 50th Anniversary Arrangement US Air Force Heritage of America Band

    USAF was #1 for him... always.

  • I Am...I Said - Single Version Neil Diamond

    As close to religious as our dad got.

  • Sing, Sing, Sing Benny Goodman

    He played clarinet in HS and loved the big band stuff. Dad told me this was really a jam when he was a teenager.

  • In the Mood Glenn Miller

    He loved the big bands.

  • My Old Man John Prine

    Seems Appropriate . This is what I called him.

  • Manhattan Dinah Washington

    Reminds me of him. He liked Dinah Washington.

  • Sugar Plum Bill Evans

    This song is really beautiful. I think the old man would approve.

  • Once In A While - Live At Birdland, New York/1954 Art Blakey Quintet

    Lovely song, fitting for the final soundtrack.

  • La vie en rose - Single Version Louis Armstrong

    Joyce and Dad liked NOLA because of the food and Culture.It is a really fun place to hang out.Nobody elicits thoughts of New Orleans like Satchmo. I always thought this was one of his prettier songs.

  • Unforgettable (Duet with Nat "King" Cole) - 2000 Digital Remaster Nat King Cole

    Diana remembers my dad loving this song.

  • Stars and Stripes Forever John Philip Sousa

    He was definitely patriotic, not in the "wrap yourself in the flag" sense, but in the more innocent 1950s-60s sense.

My Playlist in Spotify

Live Large

When Karl Hammerdorfer passed on, the comments from old friends and relatives were of a common theme: “He was something else!” “He was always so full of vim and vigor.” “...Full of piss and vinegar.”  “A real character!” 

Stuff like that. 

Karl was not one to tread lightly through life, preferring laughter and noise to caution or subtlety. (He seems to have passed that on to his kids.)

He was born on June 28, 1936 in Mount Vernon, NY Carl and Therese Tocci Hammerdorfer. He grew up poor but happy. We wondered why late in life he kept the large house. He replied, "I never had my own room. I slept on the couch my whole life." When he got to his barracks in Germany he saw the room and couldn't believe it. All that space in that room... all to himself. 

He joined the Air Force when he was 18, right out of high school. His dad was "busting my chops" about getting a job. So he went down and enlisted. He ended up being a career Air Force veteran who served honorably for 30 years and whose service remained the most important part of his working and social life. His service included a total of 12 years in Germany, one year in Vietnam, 3 years at Langley AFB in Virginia, 5 years at Scott AFB in Illinois, culminating in 4 years at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska, among other postings.  

In the Air Force, the “Hammer”, as everyone called him, rose to the highest enlisted ranks and was a respected leader within Air Weather Service. He had a reputation for professionalism, mentoring young, up-and-coming airmen and women, hard work, loyalty, service, and, perhaps more than anything, a great sense of humor. In his final station at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska, the young enlisted men and women in his charge dubbed him “Chief Hammer of the Yukon”. Even after retirement, the Hammer remained close to the people of USAF. 

Hammer went to work for the Army’s Night Vision Laboratory at Fort Belvoir, VA, traveling widely to test state of the art equipment. Although he enjoyed that work for over 10 years, it never quite measured up to his beloved Air Force. He retired for good in 1995 and thoroughly enjoyed his retirement with his wife, Joyce, frequent visits by his 3 kids and stepdaughter, Lori, and frequent visits to his grandkids, and his many friends. 

He is survived by his beloved wife, Joyce Hammerdorfer; his three children and their spouses, Diana Hammerdorfer and William Clements of Fort Collins, CO, Carl Hammerdorfer and Kathy Lynch, currently residing in Prishtina, Kosovo, and Lance Hammerdorfer and Christy Waldron of Sanford FL. He is also survived by his step-daughter and husband, Lori and Bill Foy of San Antonio, TX.  Karl loved his eight grandchildren, Andrew Hammerdorfer of Gulf Shores, AL, Christian Hammerdorfer of Denver, CO, the late Matthew Hammerdorfer, Kyle Hammerdorfer of Brooklyn, NY, Miles and Ella Hammerdorfer of Orlando, FL; David Foy of San Antonio, TX, and Brandon Foy of Rochester, NY.  

Karl will be dearly missed by his family and friends. He loved to travel, cooking, fine wines, fine dining, reading history, supporting the New York Yankees, and Giants, and the St. Louis Cardinals (baseball).  Karl greatly enjoyed daily life, making friends wherever he went. Perhaps most of all, he loved telling and hearing stories around the dinner table or over coffee with family and friends. He was most passionate about spending time with his wife, children and his extended family.


Hammer's Life

  • Mom (Teresa), Dad (Karl) and baby Carl

  • Hi mom, Teresa Tocci, with Karl, Carol, and Lorelei

  • Cowpoke Karl

  • With his two sisters, Carol and Lorelei

  • High School Photo

  • Young Airman

  • With his dad and uncle Frank

  • Loads of confidence

  • Marriage with Rina, mother of his kids.

  • With his first-born, Diana

  • Christmas in Mannheim, Germany

  • With Lance, 3rd kid, in 1965.

  • The three of us, all dressed for church.

  • In Vietnam, 1968.

  • Young Father in Germany

  • Venice in July

  • Mr. Nice, as he liked to call himself

  • With our Nanny and Lance in the late 70s.

  • Dad and Joyce drag Carl and Lori to St. Louis

  • His Mom and Dad

  • Mr. Suave

  • With his two sisters, 1984

  • Hammer with his three favorites

  • Karl and eldest son, Carl.

  • With is mom and dad

  • Karl and Joyce at Diana's wedding

  • Walking Diana down the aisle

  • That Hammer laugh

  • Karl's youngest, Lance, at 17 and in Coast Guard, with nanny and poppy.

  • Fun times in Alaska with Joyce

  • Nanook of the north with his bride.

  • Not a fisherman, but doing it anyway.

  • Hammer's dear wife, Joyce.

  • Presidential at Air Force 1

  • The whole family at Nanny's graduation.

  • Dad and his lifelong best friend, George Horn.

  • George Horn and Dad in Front of the Hanger at in Puerto Rico

  • Dad and Lance when Lance was Stationed in Puerto Rico.

  • Big Karl, Joyce, Christian, Diana, and Carl, before they moved to Warsaw.

  • He made it to a lot of birthdays, graduations, etc.

  • Loved his inlaws, who he called outlaws

  • Favorite pastime: Big Italian dinner with the family.

  • With Lance and first Grandkid, Andrew.

  • With some of the boys

  • In Colorado with three big kids

  • Outstanding in his field (weather)

  • Enjoy Life

  • 80th year with Carl, Kathy, Diana, and Will.

  • Later days

A Little Room

Moving out was a major upgrade!

Our dad used to tell us about sleeping in a drawer for the first several months of his life. We are not sure if that was one of those "walk to school barefoot stories", but we know the Hammerdorfer kids grew up without much money. Probably what was considered the emerging middle-class. His dad was  jeweler and mom didn't work (yet). 

Once Karl was older, he slept on the couch because mom and dad were in one bedroom and Carol and Lorelei got the other one.  

So, when he enlisted in the Air Force, and got to Munich, and they showed him his barracks, he asked "Who am I sharing this with?" He couldn't believe it when they told him "nobody, the space is all yours."

Years later when asked why he kept the large house with all the stuff, he'd refer to his space-limited youth. He worked hard for more space and wasn't about to give it up. 


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Hammer's Family and Friends