Industry mourns founder of Glastron Boat Co.

August 2017 Industry, News

Glastron Boat founder Robert Ray Hammond of Austin, TX passed away last week on August 6, 2017 at the age of 88. Bob was born the only child of Minnie Atwood Hammond and Ray Charles Hammond on September 28, 1928 in Okmulgee, OK. Bob graduated from the Oklahoma Military Academy in 1946 and proudly served in the U.S. Navy until his honorable discharge in 1953. In 1950, Bob married Bettye Ann Lawrence. The couple made their home in Tulsa, OK followed by Arlington, TX before moving to Austin in 1956. Bob will be remembered as an innovator in the recreational boating industry.

He founded Glastron Boat Company in 1956 and became a pioneer not only in the manufacture of fiberglass boats but also in the promotion of the sport. He brought new designs, materials, production methods, propulsion systems and marketing strategies that benefited the industry and grew his company to become the largest boat plant in the world under a single roof and the industry sales leader. In 1974, Hammond resigned from Glastron to found the Hammond Boat Company. His business model based on building a modest number of boats to high standards of excellence won PowerboatMagazine's prestigious "Boat of the Year" award in the company’s second year of production. Bob sold his interests in 1983 and from that time was primarily involved in personal investments, though Bob remained active in industry service throughout his career, serving on multiple boards.

Bob received a National Marine Manufacturers Association award in 1998 recognizing his industry leadership. Previously, he was honored as Austin's Civic Salesman of the Year in 1971. Bob's lengthy and successful career began at Douglas Aircraft Corporation as a design engineer followed by serving the Lone Star Boat Company as the general manager of their fiberglass division. In addition to his rich career, Bob had many passions that kept him on the go. Ocean and marathon boat racing were among his hobbies. He was an enthusiastic tennis player and sports car nut. Bob was an instrument rated, multi-engine pilot, and owned and flew more than 20 different aircraft for business and pleasure. He flew in a U.S. Air Force F-4 Phantom at Bergstrom AFB, where Bob's support of the base and airmen was legendary. Bob traveled the world and always looked forward to the next adventure; he was planning his next trip to Dubai to fulfill his dream of flying on the luxury A380. Bob is loved and missed by Bettye, his surviving wife, co-pilot and co-captain of 66 years. He is preceded in death by their children Ruthie and Don.

Bob was an active member of the Austin community, both civically and philanthropically. He fulfilled leadership roles in various organizations, including serving as director and member of the executive committee of American Bank in Austin and as a Vestryman at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. Bob had an abundantly generous spirit and supported numerous local organizations close to his heart including Hospice Austin, the Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity. In recent years, Bob had become increasingly involved with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and George Washington's Mount Vernon. Memorials may be made to any of these organizations in his memory. Son, nephew, husband, dad, pilot, innovator, leader, employer, friend, benefactor. He will be missed.

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