Kris Hammond’s extended family formed from exchange program
Steamboat Springs — Local lawyer Kris Hammond has quite the extended family.
When the whole Hammond clan of extended family convened in Steamboat Springs for Christmas, there were more than a dozen family members. But the Hammond name couldn’t hold them all. In fact, the family was from Hammond’s “second parents” of Tim and Jeni Webb, whom he first met as a Rotary Youth Exchange student when he studied in Rhodesia, the area that now is Zimbabwe, in 1975.
After Hammond graduated from high school in Loveland, he attended another year of school in Rhodesia’s capital city, Salisbury. Decked out in shorts, knee socks, a short sleeve shirt and a tie, Hammond attended a boy’s high school and lived with host families for one year.
The Webbs were only meant to keep Hammond in their home for the first part of his visit before he moved on to other host families in the region. But Hammond began competing in high platform diving, leading to him representing Rhodesia in inter-provincial games. He was the first Rotary student to represent his host country in international sporting events, Tim Webb said, in competitions in South Africa and other regional centers.
When the time came for Hammond to move to other families in the region, neither Hammond nor the Webbs wanted the separation.
“When I had to hand him over, I wept,” Jeni Webb said, her eyes tearing up as she remembered the event more than 30 years ago. “I was going to miss him.”
It soon was discovered that Hammond’s club diving schedule was too difficult on other families, and he ended up spending about nine months of his yearlong stay with the Webbs.
“But the most important thing was that he bonded with my wife, Jeni,” Tim Webb said.
Tim and Jeni Webb had two young children at the time, Leighann, 8, and Phillip, 5.
Since that year, much has changed – Tim and Jeni Webb moved to Brisbane, Australia; Phillip Webb married Tina and is a captain of a yacht in the Mediterranean; Leighann married Paul Beevor; and children have been added to the families – but the Hammonds and the Webbs have kept in close contact throughout the years.
When Hammond first exchanged phone calls with the Webbs, they had to reserve phone time in Salisbury for international calls. Since then, it has become much easier, Hammond said.
“It went from telephone calls to faxes to e-mail, and now they’re on Facebook,” he said. “They’re more technologically advanced than I am.”
The families also have met more than a dozen times throughout the years.
“My wife, Becky, and I traveled there in 1986 after I got out of law school. We were there for four months until we ran out of money,” he said. “Then we took our boys, Walker and Nigel, to Zimbabwe in 1995, and then we saw (the Webbs) in Australia in 2003, and a year ago I was in Australia for Phillip’s wedding.”
The extended family also has kept in close contact – Leighann Beevor and Phillip Webb have spent several seasons living with the Hammonds in Steamboat, working at local businesses and spending time with the family.
Kris Hammond’s parents, Lynn and Norma Hammond, also have visited the Webbs in Brisbane.
Family traditions also have been adopted. Kris and Becky Hammond’s son Nigel Hammond was named after Tim Webb’s father.
For Christmas, the whole clan – a total of 14 people in town – cooked a traditional Thanksgiving feast at the Hammond’s home in Old Town Steamboat Springs, including turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes.
“I think it’s the first real turkey dinner they’ve ever had,” Kris Hammond said about his extended family.
The crew was planning a dinner at Ragnar’s last night, and Tim and Jeni Webb may accompany Kris Hammond to his parents’ house in Loveland before they leave.
The Webb family will be departing from Steamboat on Jan. 3, and though they have no plans for meetings in the near future, Kris Hammond said he’s sure it’s not the last time he will see his second parents.
“I know we’re going to get together again, I just don’t know when or where,” he said.
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