Have You Met?

Some people just get better and better with time.  My friend Jan Hammond is one of them.  If you talk with Jan Hammond on any given day, she might be off to a Cancer League of Colorado meeting, or a Bessie’s Hope meeting – or at one of the many nonprofit galas in town…. Or playing Bunko with her Preserve neighbors, which she has been doing for the last 25 years.  That’s not all there is to this elegant, stylish lady…. rest assured she has a rich and fascinating history.

Jan was in the high-powered professional world as a pharmaceutical representative for Johnson & Johnson for 30 years before retiring; and she comes from a family of distinguished scholars.  Jan’s brother, Dr. Edward Sion is a Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary Science and a well-known author in his field.  Jan’s sister, Linda Sion Taylor, early on was a highly-regarded school teacher and then also a successful pharmaceutical professional.

Jan lost her beloved husband, Gil, in 2013, and she still misses him dearly. Together they both were active in the nonprofit world for years.  Jan is now making an even greater presence in the charitable community.  She is the chair of the upcoming Bessie’s Hope “Bridge of Love Gala” which takes place on Thursday, June 8th at the Denver Marriott Tech Center honoring our Have You Met, Terri Fisher and her husband Al Fisher with the “Bessie’s Hope Community Angel Award.”  Jan says:  “Bessie’s Hope gets at risk youth to go into nursing homes to see the elderly that never get visitors; and then it literally can turn the kids’ lives around because they develop a sense of empathy for the elderly.  The elderly are so happy they have young people who come to see them and some of their loneliness goes away.  It’s a life-transforming experience for both the kids and the nursing home residents.”      

In addition to her warm and loving personality, Jan has been a kind and supportive friend to many of us.  And I just have to mention this…. With her admirable discipline, Jan works out every day at the Greenwood Athletic Club - and my guess is she probably has close to 0% body fat!   

Today Jan is living a well-earned retired life with her son Andrew who says: “Mom, Dad was always your protector…. Now I’m the man of the house and your protector!”

Jan, we have known each other for 11 years now, and we both chaired the Kempe gala in 2006, can you tell us how many other events you have chaired since then, and also how many other nonprofit committees you have been on?

MS, Arapahoe Douglas Mental Health, Colorado Ballet, DCPA, Bessie’s Hope, Cancer League, Arapahoe House, among others….

What events do you have coming up?  I am pleased to be chairing the Bessie’s Hope Gala on Thursday, June 8th at the Marriott DTC, honoring my dear friends Terri and Al Fisher, for all they do to support our community.   

Tell us how you got into the pharmaceutical industry?   I was working towards a degree in Psychology, and it seemed so interesting and stimulating - I realized how much I loved the field of medicine. I became very interested in the neurological field and the physiology of the brain, so becoming a pharmaceutical representative was right down my alley. The brain is an amazing and important part of our body; and I worked with drugs relating to epilepsy, depression, schizophrenia and more in my 30 year career with Johnson & Johnson.    

 I know we talked about how hard it was to leave a job you loved so much; what helped you make the decision to retire?  J & J is such an ethical company, and that’s what drew me to them.  My dear husband, Gil’s, health was declining, and I wanted to be there for him.  It was a great job, but the industry was becoming so regulated…. like many others.  It just seemed like a perfect time to retire.

How did you and Gilly meet?  Believe it or not… In a liquor store that just happened to be owned by my family where we lived in Wichita, KS.  My mom was born in Kansas and my dad was born in Pennsylvania. Mom won out as to where we were going to be raised!

You have such a great son, Andrew.  Describe how it felt to hold him for the first time as a baby?  It was heavenly for both me and Gil because we waited so long for Andrew to come along.

Andrew was also "daddy's little guy!"  It must have been great to have Gil as a father - and of course a husband.  What are some of your best memories?  Gil was one of the most generous, and funny people ever…. He was so generous with me, and with our son - and with other people.  When Andrew was only 12 years old, Gil bought Andrew a big (and very expensive) Razor Dune Buggy because Andrew liked it!  Much to my chagrine (I didn’t want to spoil him), Andrew got anything he wanted from his dad.  Gil had the best sense of humor. He also insisted on buying me any piece of jewelry I wanted!

You have made so many great friends through the years; what qualities do you look for in a friend?  Sincerity and loyalty. 

How do you think you have changed through the years?  Describe how you see yourself today?  I’m wiser and more appreciative, and realize how very fortunate I’ve been in life.

What is your most treasured family keepsake (something you would probably grab in a fire)? Family photos and videos of family and friends.  Anything I can grab that has sentimental value.

You always dress so beautifully and classy; How would you describe your style?
I strive to look elegant – yet elegantly sexy….  Like Grace Kelly!

Can you share a favorite childhood memory with us?   We were a very education-oriented family, and we loved going on trips to places like the World’s Fair.  I aso remember all of the wonderful Sunday dinners at my grandmother's house. Everyone joined in.... even my cousins who were like siblings to me.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?   Being one of the first female reps in the pharmaceutical industry.  They were so surprised to see a woman come in and be one of their top performers!

What do you still hope to accomplish?  Although I’ve traveled extensively through the years, so little time… so much more travel remains.

What is your favorite motto, saying, or "words to live by?" “If opportunity doesn’t knock, then build a door!”

What are some of your favorite restaurants in Denver?  Shanahan’s, Venice, Del Frisco’s, Capital Grill, Cherry Creek Grill - too many more to mention…. 

What special qualities would a man have to have before you would consider getting married again?  Gilly spoiled me rotten; he’d have to be the total package like my Gil was….Passionate, attractive, have ethics, morals, character and dignity. 

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?   Maintaining good health and happiness – and still very active in the community.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  That I shared a lot of love and caring, and made the world a better place for those around me.  I have always seen the glass as half-full and not half-empty!