Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 28, 2013

Finding Frederick Hemmeter

Book returned to veteran’s family

BARNEY — A good book is one that you can get lost in. One that takes you places.

But sometimes it's the book itself that goes places, that gets lost.

On December 17, 1942, the same day that the United Nations released its 'Statement on Murder of European Jews' condemning the Nazi's systematic murder of European Jews, Frederick R. Hemmeter was given a book. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Hemmeter had enlisted with the Army earlier in the year, on July 21.

His church, Third Lutheran Church, presented Hemmeter with a copy of “Strength for Service to God and Country,” a series of 365 devotionals written by various Protestant ministers of the day.

Bound for the warrant officers branch of the Army, Hemmeter served in the Army for years before returning home six months after the end of World War II. He spent the rest of his days in Baltimore, but his book did not.

At some point it got away from him and found its way to Charles McDowell, a retired Army Chaplain and Pastor of the Barney United Methodist Church.

McDowell had ordered the book, along with others, through Ebay, to give to veterans at his church's Veterans Day service.

He gave it to Jerome Folsom, a WWII veteran, on Veteran's Day in November of 2012.

Folsom came to McDowell the following September with a request: could he find and return the book to its original owner, the person it was inscribed to?

“The inscription was on the inside and for some reason, I didn't realize that page was there until two or three months ago,” said Folsom.

Folsom carried his own book into WWII, a copy of the New Testament his mother gave him that he carried in his left shirt pocket throughout the war.

“I know that my children cherish some of those things that I had in the service. We're talking about 70-plus years ago. You'd like for somebody to enjoy it, to appreciate it.”

McDowell told Folsom he'd do his best, but quickly ran into problems.

“My first problem was the last name,” said McDowell. “The name was scribbled in the book and I could not make out the correct spelling.”

He talked with his wife, a retired nurse with years of experience deciphering the loose scrawl of doctors, but she couldn't make it out either.

Undeterred, McDowell turned to the Internet, finding that the scribbled last name was most likely Hemmeter. He found a Frederick Hemmeter, his military record, when he was born, 1916, and when he died, 1999.

But he couldn't find Hemmeter's family or the Third Lutheran Church.

So, he took a leap of faith, turning to the online White Pages and writing a letter at random to a Hemmeter in Baltimore: Evelyn E. Hemmeter.

“The name jumped out at me for no reason.”

Evelyn, it turned out, had no knowledge of Frederick's family, but she had a friend, Ellen Moats, a genealogy expert who offered to help search.

A week later, she had found Frederick's two living daughters and forwarded the letter on to one of the daughters, Rosalind Hemmeter Witowski.

Then the weeks passed and passed with no response.

McDowell had almost lost hope when he received a call on Veteran's Day from Rosalind, who was excited to hear about the book. She gave McDowell her address and McDowell dropped the book in the mail a week later.

“I am so excited to hear from you about the book that was given to my father as he entered the service,” Rosalind wrote in an email to McDowell. “My grandfather died when my Dad was still in high school. He then had the responsibility to take care of his mother and sister. I'm sure that leaving them at home was a worry and I think he found comfort in his church.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Brown Johnson Solis Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpeg Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic & Endovascular Surgeons Join South Georgia Medical Center

    The three surgeons will operate a full-time medical practice and professional office named the SGMC CardioVascular Institute.  The medical office, which is located in Suite 230 of the Professional Building which is adjacent to SGMC, will be open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140729-Gas_Leak002.jpg Roadway closed after second gas line break

    For a second day in a row, workers from Valdosta’s Utilities Department struck a natural gas service line causing a leak that shut down a portion of Forrest Street, officials said.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dump truck arrest photo.jpg Deputies nab stolen dump truck suspects

    The search for suspected dump truck thieves ended Tuesday afternoon with the arrest of two men in the same area officials searched extensively Monday.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bears sighted on Baytree

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road this week could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Johnson family files second suit against school

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teachers Harvest

    With students and teachers returning to the classroom in the coming days, the need for school supplies is at the top of numerous priority lists. For teachers, this often means spending their money to ensure classrooms are fully stocked.

    July 30, 2014

  • Lake Park holds millage rate hearings

    Lake Park City Council held two public hearings Tuesday to discuss raising Lake Park's millage rate from 5.052 to 6.552, an increase of 1.5.

    July 30, 2014

  • 140729_celebritywaiter004.jpg Celebrity waiters raise $14,000 for CAC

    For local leaders, wearing aprons, counting tips and taking drink orders is quite the change from their day jobs. When it's for a good cause though, these “celebrities” didn't mind stepping out of their comfort zones to help.

    July 30, 2014 4 Photos

  • Jim Zachary Mug shot.jpg Zachary named The Valdosta Daily Times’ editor

    Veteran newspaper editor Jim Zachary has assumed the editor’s chair at The Valdosta Daily Times.
    During the past two decades Zachary has been one of the most decorated community newspaper journalists in Georgia and Tennessee.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140728-griner001.jpg Griner takes oath

     Surrounded by family, friends, and fellow commissioners, Clay Griner took the oath of office Monday morning as the Lowndes County Super District 5 commissioner.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results