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Aug. 23, 1923 – March 23, 2013

Jannetje “Janny” Hammer, who overcame crippling arthritis to become a master gardener and advocate for the handicapped, died Saturday in her Clarence Center home after a lengthy illness. She was 89.

Born Jannetje Kop in Dreibergen, the Netherlands, near Utrecht, she was one of 10 children. She worked as a medical analyst in the Netherlands for eight years after World War II.

Mrs. Hammer had her first attack of rheumatoid arthritis at age 23 after she was hit by shrapnel during the war. By age 35, she was in a wheelchair. In constant pain, her hands deformed by arthritis, she never walked again.

After living in Clarence from 1961 to 1974, she and her family returned to the Netherlands. A resident of Wassenaar, a suburb of The Hague, she lobbied tirelessly to make her community handicapped-accessible, doing sit-ins outside the inaccessible town hall during public meetings. For her efforts, she was awarded a medal of honor by the mayor.

In the Netherlands, she founded a toy library, organized transportation for people needing accessible vehicles, was a consultant with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in making airplane bathrooms accessible and was instrumental in making Dutch trains accessible to wheelchairs.

Retiring with her husband to Ithaca in 1992, she became a master gardener, master composter and master landscape designer. She gave classes in verniculture and took part in many Cornell Cooperative Extension activities.

Mrs. Hammer returned to Clarence in 1998 and became a member of several garden clubs and two book clubs. She was a volunteer at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens and won prizes for her plants at the Erie County Fair. Planting and working with tools adapted for her by her husband, she developed a garden that was part of the annual Clarence Center garden walks.

She was a member of the Garden Friends of Clarence, Amherst Garden Club, the Clarence Senior Center and Niagara County Cooperative Extension.

Her husband of 47 years, Jacob, died in 1999.

Surviving are two daughters, Eveline Hartz and Marjolein; a son, Vincent; and three brothers, Peter Kop, Johan Kop and Benjamin Kop.

A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave.