Born Carol Mae Gillett in Gary, Indiana, on Sept. 19, 1925, Bunny Hammersla died peacefully in Seattle on October 11, 2017, after a brief illness. Her father’s work with Standard Oil took the family around the Great Lakes, so she was raised in Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin. After Bunny graduated from high school in Superior, Wisconsin, the family moved first to Orcas Island and then to Bellingham.
In 1949, Bunny married Bill Hammersla, a Seattle native and then a University of Washington accounting student (who later worked at Safeco Corporation from 1953 through 1986). Bunny and Bill lived first on a houseboat on Lake Union, then migrated north, ultimately settling in Edmonds in 1958. Bill died in 2012, after he and Bunny had been married more than 63 years. In 2015, Bunny moved to Seattle, where she lived first at Bayview Manor and then at The Terraces at Skyline.
Bunny started painting in childhood. A sporting goods store in Superior sponsored a competition for a painting to be displayed in its window to help sell ice skates. Bunny won a cash prize for her painting of a skater. She though to herself, “Oh man, you can get paid money for this!” Bunny later took art classes at Western Washington University and the University of Washington, but was mainly a self-taught artist. For six years, she did poster design for Pacific Telephone and Telegraph in Seattle; for two years, Bunny did cartoons for the Mother Goose television program on the ABC affiliate in Seattle. From 1976 to 1984, she operated the Hammersla Gallery on Main Street in Edmonds, showing the art of other Pacific Northwest artists as well as a bit of her own. Bunny produced more than 1,000 paintings, mostly landscapes, in acrylic, oil and watercolor, and won numerous awards in juried art shows. Her work was shown in numerous Seattle-area galleries and three times at the Frye Museum, and is represented in many collections, including those of the City of Mountlake Terrace and the Edmonds Art Festival Commission.
Bunny was also a musician, playing piano, accordion, and electronic keyboard. She volunteered as the pianist at the weekly “senior dances” at the Edmonds Senior Center for fifteen years. When Bill brought home an early personal computer in 1980, Bunny figured out how to write music on it; her article, Composing Music on the PC, was published in PC Magazine. She also volunteered at Stevens Memorial Hospital (now Swedish Edmonds) for approximately ten years.
Bunny and Bill traveled widely and often, especially after the children left home. They visited 76 countries and all seven continents. Bunny enjoyed Scrabble, playing weekly over lunch for many years with her best friend Ann Rutter. She also enjoyed skiing and family get-togethers and, until she moved to Seattle, continued to walk two laps of Alderwood Mall six mornings a week with a wonderful group of friends.
Much more than her many talents and accomplishments, Bunny was a warm and loving person, with a dry wit and a big heart. She will be greatly missed by her two surviving children—daughter Joni Ostergaard (husband Will Patton) of Seattle and son Bruce Hammersla (wife Pam) of Port Orange, Florida—and her four grandchildren—Bennett Ostergaard (wife Chera) of Bothell, Morgan Patton of New York City, Brody Ford (wife Marcelle) of Auburn, and Bryan Ford (wife Erin), also of Port Orange. In addition to her husband Bill, Bunny was predeceased in 1976 by her son Bill and in 2013 by both of her siblings, Doreen Merrell and Bruce Gillett.
At Bunny’s request, there will be no services. Memorial contributions, if desired, can be made to the Edmonds Senior Center or to the Swedish Medical Center Foundation.
Please share your memories of Bunny at www.becksfuneralhome.com.