Reverend Richard Lewis Lammers, best known as Dick, died at the age of 90 on February 2, 2016 at the Uplands Retirement Village in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee, where he had lived since retiring in 1990 from missionary work in Japan.
Dick was born Nov. 5, 1925, on a farm in Auglaize County, Ohio. He felt ‘called’ at the early age of 12 through the missionary work in Japan of Gilbert and Cornelia Schroer from his home church in nearby New Knoxville. He attended Mission House College in Wisconsin, and graduated from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, before accepting a three-year assignment as a J-3 to Sendai, Japan in 1948. His desire to be in Japan on a mission of peace and forgiveness was, in part, his response to the war in which his brother lost his life.
During the intensive J-3 orientation, Dick met Martha Lewis, a fellow J-3, headed for Hiroshima. After a year in Japan, they wed in Hiroshima and then started their family home, working together in Sendai. From the beginning, Dick regarded the two of them as a team of equals.
After their initial term in Japan, Dick completed a Bachelor of Divinity at Oberlin Graduate School of Theology while pastoring two rural churches in Ohio. He was subsequently awarded a Master of Divinity by Vanderbilt in Tennessee.
Dick and Martha returned to Japan in 1954 as career missionaries sent by the United Church Board for World Ministries. After language study in Kyoto, they moved their growing family to the northern Island of Hokkaido, first to remote Asahikawa, and then to the even more remote Kitami, where they founded the Kitami Christian Center and served the churches of Eastern Hokkaido.
In 1969 they moved to Morioka in northern Honshu to head the Good Neighbor Christian Center founded prior to WWII by the Schroers. The Center included a bookstore, library, English classes and other community outreach, overnight rooms, and space for offices of the area churches and Kanan-No-Sono which works with mentally challenged children and adults.
The Lammers returned to the United States in 1990 and settled in Uplands Retirement Village where they both became very active in the Pleasant Hill Community Church and the broader community. Dick sang in the choir for many years, participated in the writers group, traveled with work camps, and volunteered for many community projects. He and Martha built a dome home to promote environmental benefits and simple living.
Dick revived his high-school interest in woodworking and developed a passion for turning pieces of scrap wood into beautiful works of art, from bowls, containers and such turned on a lathe to unique lamps, coffee tables, and plaques, regularly taking his creations to art and craft fairs. He also became the community’s “go-to guy” for furniture repair. He will continue to live on in the community through his handiwork.
Dick’s body was donated for research to the Medical Center at Vanderbilt. The ashes are to be returned home to Japan as well as interred in the memorial garden of Pleasant Hill Community Church.
Dick is survived by his wife of 66 years, Martha; children and their spouses — Don (Sally), of Golden, CO; Wayne (Cheryl), of Portland, OR; Ken (Shukuko), of Yokohama, Japan; and June (Dave) Lymburner, of Invermere, Canada; Grandchildren — Michael (Christina), Kei (Hiroaki), Yui, and Jamie, a great-grandson, Paxton.
Dick’s celebration of life took place on Saturday, February 13. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be given to the Uplands Retirement Village Cravath Endowment Fund, the Pleasant Hill Community Church Scholarship Fund, or Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity. For those who do wish to bring flowers, Dick’s request was for potted plants to be passed on to shut-ins and continue to grow and bloom and bring joy with each flowering season. Condolences may be sent to the family in care of Dick’s wife, Martha Lammers, P.O. Box 406, Pleasant Hill, TN 38578-0406.
“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes. 5:16-18