Just Folks

February 23, 2006|by JANET HEIM

Editor's note - There are a lot of people you see around town that you recognize, but don't know anything about. People like...

Harry Hamby

Age - 87.

Occupation - Retired railroad engineer.

Hometown - Hagerstown.

Where would you see Hamby? - An avid golfer and Pen Mar Park dancer, Hamby looks forward to warmer weather. For now, he's taking it easy as he recovers from his third bout of pneumonia.

"I've had a wonderful life. The good Lord has been looking over me my whole life," said Hamby, who has been blessed with good health, until his recent breathing problems.


Things have worked out well for Hamby - be it love, career or financially. The Hagerstown native was married to his wife Beverly for more than 50 years before she died 12 years ago.

"I had a good gal," he said of Beverly. "She was a good Christian lady."

Hamby thought he would be a business owner, but fate changed that. As a boy, he worked after school at Harry Dorsey's Market at Washington Square. He left Hagerstown High School before graduating to open his own store in the South End - Cut Rate Market - which he ran from 1937 to 1940.

In September 1940, Hamby was drafted and served with the Army Air Corps. He was stationed stateside, training other soldiers, until November 1945.

Hamby expected to return to his store, but when that didn't work out, a chance meeting with some railroad officials at the Morris Frock American Legion resulted in a 26-year career with the railroad.

About five years after retiring, luck intervened again and Hamby was one of five winners of the first Maryland Lotto. The $12 million jackpot was split among the winners and Hamby enjoyed 20 years of payouts that ended in 2004.

Already in a comfortable home in Maugansville that they bought while under construction, Hamby suggested using some of the lottery winnings to buy a new house. Beverly had no desire to move, so the couple stayed put and Hamby's glad they did.

He admits winning the lottery allowed him to play more golf, including in Myrtle Beach, but didn't change life much for the couple. Hamby started a scholarship at the Morris Frock American Legion, but can't remember if that was before or after winning the lottery.

One of the hardest things he's endured was when Beverly died from lung cancer.

"You can have all the money in the world and can't buy your health," Hamby said.

He's grateful for the companionship of Tess Summers, a friend who enjoys golf and dancing just as Hamby does. Hamby, who used to dance at Pen Mar Park in the 1930s, said they rarely miss a Sunday at Pen Mar Park during the summer concert season.

A life member of the American Legion (61 years), charter member of AMVETS, and a member at the Masonic Temple and Elks Lodge, Hamby has been involved for years. He volunteered at Western Maryland Hospital Center for more than 20 years, but stopped because of his health.

Hobbies - Dancing and golf top the list. Hamby said he used to golf at Beaver Creek Country Club, but now golfs at Fountain Head Country Club, because Tess is a member there.

What does Hamby like best about Washington County? - "Well, this is my home. I've been here all my life," said Hamby, who was born and raised on a farm west of Hagerstown.

"I know a lot of people in Washington County and Hagerstown. Of course, I've lost a lot of friends, but you get new ones," he said.

If you know anyone in the community who might make an interesting Our Town feature, contact Janet Heim at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024 or e-mail

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