Roy Glenn Hammonds Jr.
Glenn Hammonds died on May 2, 2021, from complications of cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) at his home in Oakland, California, surrounded by the love of his family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, R. Glenn Hammonds, M.D., and Virginia McBurnett Hammonds, and by his sister, Virginia Hammonds Scott. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Ann Schoggen Hammonds, and by his sisters, Susan Hammonds-White (Walter) and Nancy Hammonds Shuman (Ted). His sister, Lindsay Hammonds (Richardo Hanakoo) survived him by two months, but herself succumbed to cancer on July 4, 2021.
He also is survived by niece Christy White Berryessa (Steven) and great-nieces Lucy Beth and Cora Lindsay Berryessa, by niece Virginia Scott (Kevin Day) and great-nephew Jasper Day, by nephew Michael Shuman (Meridith) and great-nephew Sammy, by niece Renee Ranjani Shuman Byrd (Logan), and by nephew Robert Shuman (Patti) and great-niece Katie and great-nephews Bobby and Andrew.
He will be missed by his sisters-in-law, Leida Schoggen (Buck Farmer) and Susan Logan (John) and his brother-in-law Christopher Schoggen (Billi Dawn), nieces Sarah Farmer, Lillian Farmer, Jessica Logan (Jason Flowers), Kathryn Logan (Sean Corey), Maria Logan, Anna Logan, and Louise Schoggen (Paul Bailey), nephews Nick Schoggen (Elisabeth Cook), Jason Farmer and Chris Farmer (Belen Pulido), and their children.
A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Glenn was born on April 14, 1951. He was the grandson of Roy Dean Hammonds and Vera Mosier Hammonds and Roe David McBurnett, Sr. and Mary Lindsay White McBurnett.
Glenn grew up in Nashville and developed a fascination with life at an early age, cultivated by his habit of voracious reading and by his summer experiences exploring nature at Camp Biota near Nashville. He graduated from Peabody Demonstration School (now University School of Nashville) in 1969 and in 1973 received his AB in biology from the University of Chicago, where he first became interested in the idea of “information biology”, a concept that was ahead of its time but to which Glenn returned when technology caught up years later. After graduation, Glenn and Ann, high school sweethearts, married and Glenn entered a PhD program at Vanderbilt University where he studied peptide and protein hormones. He received his doctorate in biochemistry in 1979 and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for postdoctoral studies in the Hormone Research Laboratory at the University of California at San Francisco. Following his years at UCSF he joined the then new biotechnology industry and began a varied career in basic research and drug development, working first at Genentech then MetaXen and Exelixis, transitioning gradually from bench biochemistry to computational analysis of protein and DNA sequences and expression. He continued his career as consultant in genomics and bioinformatics for various biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, focused on identification of promising candidates for new targeted therapies in oncology. A drug that grew out of similar studies became available to Glenn in a clinical trial and extended his life beyond what was possible with conventional chemotherapy. Glenn was described by a colleague as a “Renaissance biologist” with wide-ranging interests and an uncanny ability to translate data into understandable language for non-specialists. As personal genomic data became obtainable in recent years, he enjoyed putting his knowledge to use helping family and friends interpret their results.
Beyond is his interests and career in science, Glenn was passionate about progressive politics. Searching for information about how to turn political angst into activism, he discovered the blogging community of Daily Kos (“News you can do something about”), where he developed a statistical measure to identify posts of high impact on the busy site and then began to publish his results daily. Over the years he published over 6000 entries on Daily Kos where he was known and well appreciated as “Jotter”.
Glenn was an engaged and generous host, uncle, great-uncle, surrogate uncle, and friend. His wide-ranging interests always led to fascinating conversations. He relished information (favoring the Gregory Bateson definition, “a difference that makes a difference”), making and listening to music, live theater, all kinds of books, good food and wine, adventurous and not-so-adventurous travel, good conversation and laughter. Naturally, he was a lifelong Pogo fan. He loved his family, his extended family, and his family of friends. As he said on his Daily Kos profile, “I love data, counting, programming, and music (of certain kinds). What floats my boat: offering what I know to those I meet in the hope and expectation of positive results. People are my people.”
In the last year of his life, faced with the limitations of COVID, Glenn created regular Zoom connections with family and friends from across the globe. He was grateful for these virtual visits and the in-person visits that a few friends and family members were able to manage during his last few weeks. He died after hoping until the end that he could make it to the next clinical trial and a better conclusion. Shortly before he died, Glenn told Ann that he “felt overwhelmed by love.” May we all be able to say this in our last moments.
A celebration of Glenn’s life is planned for a later date. If you wish to remember Glenn through a donation in his name, please consider The National Center for Science Education (ncse.ngo) or Friends of Radnor Lake (radnorlake.org).