She first played the lead role of Maria in “The Sound of Music” as a student at Sylacauga High School. It was just the beginning.

Over the years, she played the singing von Trapp wife again and again. Remember Maria von Trapp when the musical was performed at Birmingham’s Jewish Community Center in the early 70s? It was a highlight of Birmingham’s Festival of the Arts.

That was Suzy Wade from Sylacauga.

Remember the famous Crystal Pistol at Six Flags Over Georgia?  That dynamic singer and actress in the mid-1970s was Suzy Wade.

She toured the southeast with her own band. The lead singer?  Maria, I mean Suzy.

And then it was back home to the Marble City. Suzy Wade Hammonds never forgot where she came from.  Sorry, Miss Velma Goodgame (her English teacher). Suzy never forgot from where she came. You can take the girl out of Sylacauga, but you can’t take Sylacauga out of the girl.

In 1978, she began her long, stellar career as a music teacher in the Sylacauga City School System, retiring after a quarter century. She was also Director of the adult and children's choirs at First Presbyterian Church in Sylacauga, her home church.

Suzy instilled her love and joy of music into thousands of students.  It was contagious.

Now, that angelic voice has gone to sing with the heavenly choir. Suzy Wade Hammonds died on April 8 at age 72.

A Celebration of Life for Suzy will be held on Saturday, April 13, at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Sylacauga followed by a reception in the church's Perryman Hall. At a later date in a private family service, Suzy's ashes will be scattered in the memory garden in Montreat, North Carolina, a place she loved for more than forty years. Those North Carolina hills are alive with the sound of music.

Suzy is survived by her husband, Dr. Phil Hammonds. He is a retired school administrator and was Superintendent of Education of the Jefferson County School System. They have two sons, Seth and Lee. They have three grandchildren. Suzy leaves two brothers, Dr. Steve Bowman and pilot Sam Wade. 

Suzy Wade Hammonds will continue to make a difference in the lives of others. She and her family have suggested donations in Suzy's name to: The Sylacauga City Schools Foundation, 43 North Broadway Avenue, Sylacauga, Al 35150; the First Presbyterian Church of Sylacauga, 100 S. Norton Avenue, Sylacauga, Al 35150; or the Encore Respite Ministry at Canterbury United Methodist Church, 350 Overbrook Road, Birmingham, Al 35213.

“You brought music back into the house.”  — Captain von Trapp

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler writes about Alabama’s people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths.  He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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