During the many years that he owned a charter bus company, Richard “Dick” Hammann, L40104, welcomed such high-profile passengers as Liberace, Frank Sinatra, the Four Tops, Billy Joel, the Four Lads, the Pointer Sisters, the Four Freshmen, and REO Speedwagon. He even drove Pope John Paul II in one of the company’s luxury coaches.
But nothing brought more joy to Mr. Hammann than bus trips with his wife, Karen; his daughters Katherine, Elizabeth, and Karen Christine; and other family members and friends.
“We had a lot of fun as a family,” said Karen, his wife of 58 years.
His extended family included those he met through FMCA. “He really got into (the organization) because of the people and the camaraderie,” Mrs. Hammann said.
Richard Henry Hammann, who served as FMCA national president from 1988 to 1990, died December 25, 2019. The Racine, Wisconsin, resident was 81.
Before he was FMCA national president, Mr. Hammann served as the organization’s national senior vice president from 1986 to 1988, and as national treasurer from 1985 to 1986.
In 1989, during his tenure as president, FMCA purchased the Round Bottom Road facility in suburban Cincinnati; the FMCA campground later was added to the site.
Also that year, FMCA held three international conventions for the first time. At the June convention in Richmond, Virginia, Mr. and Mrs. Hammann greeted President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. It marked the first time a U.S. president paid a visit to FMCA.
Over the years, the Hammanns traveled in a number of converted buses. Mr. Hammann’s fondness for such vehicles began during his college days, when his father ran a school bus operation. Mr. Hammann learned to drive a bus while earning a degree in business administration from Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
After a stint in the U.S. Army, Mr. Hammann went to work for his father-in-law, Marty Christensen, who owned Motoresearch, a Racine supplier of electric induction gear motors. The two men, who shared a love for buses, bought two refurbished Greyhound coaches.
After the death of Mr. Christensen, the Hammanns became owners of Motoresearch, which was renamed Moto-Search. A few years later, in 1976, Mr. Hammann founded a charter bus service, Royal Coach Lines. The business grew to include nearly 30 vehicles. Mr. Hammann also founded and operated Royal Express Tours, a tour bus company.
Mr. Hammann’s clients included Major League Baseball teams that came to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to play the Brewers. After they arrived in town, he drove them to the ballpark. Fittingly, one of Mr. Hammann’s coaches — and Mr. Hammann himself, as a driver — appeared briefly in the 1989 baseball movie Major League, which was filmed in Milwaukee.
Before the Hammanns joined FMCA, they sometimes removed the seats from one of their charter buses, placed mattresses on the floor, and embarked on trips with their family. After such a trip, “we put the seats back in to use (the coach) for charters,” Mrs. Hammann said.
Mr. Hammann first heard about FMCA while converting one of his buses. After being elected FMCA president, he continued to run his businesses. “He had a lot on his plate, but he seemed to be able to do it all,” Mrs. Hammann said.
In his 1990 farewell column in this magazine, Mr. Hammann reminded readers that he and other FMCA officers are volunteers. “And a great deal of personal time and sacrifice are involved,” he wrote. “However, serving as president of this fine association truly is a labor of love.”
Pamela Kay, FMCA director of communications, first met Mr. Hammann and his family during FMCA’s 1984 summer convention in Madison, Wisconsin. “The FMCA staff joined the Frustrated Maestros aboard the Hammanns’ double-decker bus and, with Mr. Hammann at the wheel, we traveled across the rolling green countryside to a German restaurant,” she recalled. “He and his family were gracious hosts, and this remains one of my fondest FMCA memories.
“It was obvious during his leadership as president that he cared about FMCA and wanted the best for members. He also cared about the staff. I’ll always remember his big grin. And those tasty Danish kringles he’d bring the staff from the bakery in Racine.”
In addition to his wife, Karen, Mr. Hammann is survived by his daughters Katherine and Elizabeth; four grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Karen Christine, who died in 2006.