Melvyn A. Hammarberg of West Chester

Melvyn A. Hammarberg, 78, of West Chester, died Saturday, Dec.10 at his home.

Melvyn A. Hammarberg

Melvyn A. Hammarberg

Born Sept. 5, 1938 in Des Moines, Iowa, he was preceded in death by parents Ruth and Melvin.

He is survived by his loving wife, Hong. Dad is also survived by his children Kerstin (Lisa Borneman), Marc (Craig Rosenfeld), Erik (Leslie Levito), their mother Carol and grandchildren Niko and Logan. Siblings Linda (Brian) Willette, Jon (Ruth) Hammarberg, Paul (Porat) Hammarberg, nephew, nieces, and cousins.

Mel grew up in St. Paul, Minn. He attended Johnson High School and Gustavus Adolphus College. He received advanced degrees from Philadelphia Lutheran Seminary and the University of Pennsylvania. He received a doctorate in American civilization and in cognitive psychology.

Mel taught at George Washington University, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Pahlavi University in Shiraz - Iran, and was an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania for over 40 years in the American Civilization and Anthropology departments.

While in the American Civilization Department at Penn, Mel's major teachings were of 20th century American civilization, the culture and conquest of the American West, native Indian peoples of North America, and cultural values in modern America. During this time he wrote The Indiana Voter, published by the University of Chicago Press (1977).

He became a licensed psychologist whose studies led him to understanding issues of individual identity and group cohesion. This developed his interest in psychological anthropology and the human response to situations of extreme stress. From these ideas he developed the Penn Inventory for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is widely used today.

His interest in the Latter Day Saints led him on a life-long study of the Mormon Church in America, which culminated in a book titled, "The Mormon Quest for Glory" published by the Oxford University Press (2013).

He was also involved in the National Institute for Humanities as a faculty member, taught as a Fulbright faculty member for summer courses, and taught at the Lauder Institute at the Wharton School. Mel was a lifelong learner and teacher.

As a young person Mel spent summers working at his parent's Dairy Queen, attending summer camp, time at North Sand Lake in Wisconsin, he was an athlete and held the title of MIAC Diving Champion from his sophomore through senior years at Gustavus, he joined the fraternity Phi Alpha at Gustavus, was the editor for the Gustavian yearbook, and fancied himself a magician.

Mel enjoyed interests in travel and photography. From taking his family camping throughout North America, to adventures in Europe, Iran, Asia, South America and Scandinavia. While exploring, he also collected ethnographic information about people and always wanted to know more about peoples and cultures. He was a constant observer through the lens of his camera of cultures and people.

One of his most significant travel adventures led him to China where he met his wife Hong. She joined him in West Chester where they built a full life together. Hong supported and encouraged Mel to complete his book, made sure that he worked on his "bucket list," and encouraged him to spend time with his children and grandchildren as often as possible. Dad's life was greatly enriched by Hong's presence.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers you make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Gustavus Adolphus College, Public Radio, or the charity of your choice. A private internment will be held at a later date.

Please join us in a celebration of Mel's life on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. with a gathering at Donohue Funeral Home 1627 West Chester Pike, West Chester, PA, 610-431-9000.

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