LAKELAND -- After he lost his eyesight to glaucoma, Mr. Roscoe Albert Hammond Jr. returned to school and obtained a bachelor's degree from Florida Southern College at the age of 52.
The retired salesman for Eli Witt Cigar Co. in Tampa died of heart failure Sunday (March 7, 2004) at Tandem Health Care of Lakeland.
"He picked up a German shepherd seeing-eye dog named Rex," said his niece, Elizabeth Sangster of Lakeland. "He was like part of the family."He would take him outside and brush him every day," she said. "He had a beautiful coat."When we would drive over there and the dog would bark at us, he would say `It's your family' and then everything would be OK," Sangster said.
Born in Enigma, Ga., on April 30, 1916, Mr. Hammond graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1935. He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, from 1942 to 1946. Following his discharge, he began working for Eli Witt Cigar Co. as a salesman where he was employed for several years before becoming blind.
Mr. Hammond attended Adult Training School for the Blind in Daytona Beach before graduating from Florida Southern College on May 6, 1968. He received his seeing-eye dog, which was sponsored by the Dixieland Lions Club in Rochester, Mich., where the two trained together."They had to learn when they went up there how to walk the streets," Sangster said, noting that her uncle's two primary hobbies were his wife and his dog, Rex. He was a member of the Dixieland Lions Club. He was an active member of Eastside Baptist Church in Lakeland.
Mr. Hammond was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Eva Hammond, in November 2000.
In addition to his niece, he is survived by his niece, Mary Murphy, Tampa; and several nephews.Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Oak Hill Burial Park. Heath Funeral Chapel. - Ledger, March 9, 2004

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