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Della Ruth Johnson Hamner died at her home in Bradenton, surrounded by her family, on May 5, 2018. Della was born in Central Alabama on August 4, 1926, the only child of Ada T. and Dioh L. Johnson.
Della was a talented person, gifted with gardens, flower arrangements and designs, sewing, home decorating, and cooking (especially pies). Her childhood and adolescent nickname was “Bee” because she was never still. She loved to read, ride horses, and drive fast. She was Valedictorian of her high school class and attended Judson College for two years before transferring to The University of Alabama in 1945. There she met John Hamner, a returning Army Air Corp veteran, as they were both majoring in journalism. He liked to brag she made a better grade than he did in their editing class. After graduation, she worked for three years at The People’s Bank in Selma, during a long courtship with John. They married in Bessemer, AL in January 1950.
Della’s two children were both born in Tuscaloosa, AL where John was managing editor of the Tuscaloosa News.
The family moved to Bradenton in 1956, and John began his first tour as editor of the Bradenton Herald. Della became active in the Manatee River Garden Club and as a volunteer for the March of Dimes. In 1959, the family returned to Alabama, where John was the managing editor of the Alabama Journal in Montgomery. But Florida called them back, and they returned to Bradenton in 1962 as John began his second tour as editor of the Bradenton Herald.
Della was a star in her own right during that era, taking courses to become accredited as a national judge in horticultural and flower show arrangements. She became more active in flower shows and the Manatee River Garden Club. She was the staging manager for the annual garden show one year, and the general chairman another year, and also chaired smaller shows in the area. She won many a blue ribbon and best-in-show awards at various competitive flower shows.
In 1972, she and John moved to Troy, AL where he was the associate dean of the Hall School of Journalism at Troy University, and she gradually took over managing her father’s large farming operation as his health failed. John and Della moved once more back to Bradenton in 1975. During this period, she traveled between the farm in Alabama and her home in Bradenton on a regular basis, as she took over running the family farm at her father’s death.
Della was preceded in death by her parents, Ada and Dioh Johnson, by her husband, John T. Hamner, and by a grandson, William Hamner. She was also preceded by her two best friends, Bea Hayo and Catherine Spivey. She is survived by her son, William D. Hamner, and a daughter, Claire H. Matturro. She is further survived by a much beloved daughter-in-law, Lois Hamner, and a loyal son-in-law Bill Matturro, and by devoted grandchildren and their spouses: Lois Bove, Amanda Hamner Johnson and her husband, Robby, John Edwin Hamner and his wife, Kim, William Robert Hamner and Michael Valcus Hamner. She is also survived by great-grandchildren Chase, Hunter, and Christopher Johnson, and John Edwin Jr., Noah, Annalise, and Silas Hamner.
The family wishes to thank Kathie Butelli for her unfailing friendship, devotion and care for Della during the last year, and for all the wonderful, kind personnel of Tidewell Hospice, and especially to Patricia and Mary Beth of Hospice. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Tidewell Hospice or to the Salvation Army.
Cremation will be handled by Griffith-Cline Funeral Home. A memorial service will be scheduled later in Selma, AL where her ashes will be joined with John’s on the family farm as per their wishes.
Tidewell Hospice, Inc.
5955 Rand Boulevard, Sarasota FL 34238
Salvation Army - Manatee County