Sister Bonnie S. Hammond, wife of Elder F. Melvin Hammond, dies at age 86

Elder F. Melvin Hammand, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, and his wife, Sister Bonnie Sellers Hammond. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Elder F. Melvin Hammond, with his wife, Bonnie, watching, displays a gift presented him during banquet. Credit: Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps

Bonnie Sellers Hammond, wife of Elder F. Melvin Hammond, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, died Tuesday, June 14, in St. George, Utah. She was 86.

Sister Hammond was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. Sister Hammond served wholeheartedly with her husband as he fulfilled assignments as a General Authority Seventy from 1989 to 2005 which included time in Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

She was an enthusiastic missionary who — after serving with her husband as leaders of the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission from 1984 to 1987 — could bear her testimony of the Savior in both English and Spanish.

Through the years she served in many capacities including as a stake Relief Society president; ward Primary president, chorister and accompanist; and temple ordinance worker.

Her obituary says she considered her and her husband’s call as temple president and matron of the Washington D.C. Temple from 2005 to 2008 to be “icing on the cake.”

In an Ensign article published at the time her husband was called as a Seventy, Sister Hammond said the main thing they had to offer in their service to the Church was their love of people. 

“We can express love easily, and people need that. The world needs it. We both have a positive spirit — the Lord has blessed us with that,” she said.

Evona “Bonnie” Sellers was born on Aug. 20, 1935, in Hibbard, Idaho, as one of nine children of Joseph and Myrtle Lucas Sellers. Following high school in Rexburg, Idaho, she attended Ricks College where her brother Keith introduced her to his friend, F. Melvin Hammond.

On their first date, they sat on the river bank and he sang love songs in a beautiful tenor voice. Sister Hammond, who was a gifted musician, thought she had “died and gone to heaven,” she recalled in a Church News article.

She was a beautiful cheerleader and he had the potential to become a basketball star. She encouraged him to serve a full-time mission — something he hadn’t planned on. Following a motorcycle accident that helped him realize basketball wasn’t as important as he thought it was, he served two and a half years in the Spanish American Mission.

Two months after returning from his mission, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on Sept. 14, 1956. Eventually they made their home in Rexburg, where they raised a son and five daughters. 

In an address at Brigham Young University in 2004, Elder Hammond paid tribute to his wife, calling her his “spiritual inspiration” since the day she encouraged him to go on a mission. 

“Today I thank her for that and for the many other times that she has prompted me to do my very best for the Savior,” he said. “I humbly proffer my love to her, before all of you. Would that each of you could find such incredible happiness as we have found together.”

Sister Hammond is survived by her husband, six children, 28 grandchildren and 48 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, at the St. James Chapel (1095 E St. James Lane, St. George, Utah). The family will receive friends Friday from 6- 8 p.m. at the St. James Chapel and Saturday from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Interment will be at the Tonaquint Cemetery.

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