Harold “Jerry” Hanna, 89, a lifetime resident and public servant of the area and the State of Washington, died Tuesday, October 5, 2010, at Wenatchee, WA. He was born February 14, 1921, at Wenatchee, WA. Jerry attended local schools, graduating from Wenatchee High School in 1939. He then attended the first class of the Wenatchee Junior College, graduating in 1941. That same year, he transferred his college credits to Valparaiso University in Indiana as a sophomore. Hanna had a distinguished athletic career, lettering in football, basketball and baseball while at WHS and, during his junior college years, was top scorer in the Wenatchee City League. His love of the sport prompted him to once again display his athletic prowess at age 60, by joining the WHS vs. Eastmont Alumni Bowl, during which he was voted the #1 player by Coaches Preston and Cooprider. Jerry had a distinguished military career, having enlisted in the U.S. Army in July of 1942, and being honorably discharged in 1946. After basic training and serving as an Instructor at Camp Roberts, CA, he was sent overseas and saw combat duty in Europe with the 83rd Infantry Division. He saw service as a T/Sgt, leading a machine gun platoon during the Battle of the Bulge and eventually crossing the Elbe River to within 50 miles of Berlin. Hanna was awarded numerous military awards, including the Bronze Star, Croix de Guerre, Combat Infantry Badge, Victory Medal and a Certificate of Combat Merit from the French Government. The summer following his return from the Service in 1946, he was employed by Cedergreen Frozen Foods and, once again, that fall, returned to Valparaiso University, enrolling in Law School. Upon graduation in 1949, he returned to Wenatchee and commenced law practice with offices in the old Central Building. Having become interested in politics and since he couldn’t pass the Republican litmus test, he was wooed by the Democrats, and in 1954, was successfully elected to the State House of Representatives. Following that, in 1956, he was elected state Senator, receiving the most votes of all candidates running in the 12th district, including President Dwight Eisenhower. Senator Hanna served three consecutive terms in that office, eventually being defeated by his good friend, Bob McDougall. He was the last Democrat elected to the Legislature from the 12th District to this time. Jerry became a lobbyist for the Washington State Automobile Association and the Washington State Horticulture Association, but in 1971, returned to Wenatchee and joined Robert F. Murray in the practice of law. Once again in 1977, Hanna resurfaced in politics when Washington’s first woman governor, Dixy Lee Ray, selected him to be her staff Attorney and Legislative Liaison. He was instrumental in structuring procedure by which judicial appointees were selected, and was instrumental in the appointment of the first female Supreme Court Justice, Carolyn Dimmick, as well as Charles Cone’s selection as Chelan County Superior Court Judge. Senator Hanna’s judicial career commenced in May of 1972, when he was appointed the first Douglas County District Court Judge. In 1992, he retired from that position. Jerry served as President of the Chelan-Douglas County Bar Association and was a member of Elks, Eagles, Kiwanis, American Legion Post #10, VBOB (Vets of the Battle of the Bulge), Wenatchee Golf & Country Club, and was a charter member of the OPBA (a senior citizen’s group of old attorneys). In his earlier years, he had enjoyed appearing in several productions of the Wenatchee Little Theatre.
Jerry married Franc D. Fraley in Hawaii on November 17, 1968, who survives him. Also surviving are his two children, Debbie Carlin and Max Hanna, both of Seattle; and two grandchildren, Misty, residing in Texas and James, also of Seattle. He also is survived by his step-sons, Burt and Pat Fraley and their children; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, John W. Hanna and Maude E. (Pepper) Hanna; and four brothers, John W., Pep, Doug and Robert.
Jerry and Franc enjoyed a life together of many joyous experiences. Their favorite vacation spot was Hawaii, where visits were made on a yearly basis and lasted until physical problems made travel impossible. Attending reunions of classmates from college days and Jerry’s military buddies took them to Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, California and Utah and visits with the family. Franc’s digs in Sun Valley and Stanley Basin were much enjoyed. Countless trips were made to Seattle to attend various stage and theatre plays and to visit friends and family. Franc was often quoted as saying, “living with Jerry was never dull and he was never a complainer.” Growing up in the Depression started Jerry on a long and varied work ethic. As a youngster, he picked cherries, thinned apples, picked pears and ran a bean sprayer. While attending Wenatchee Junior College, he stocked shelves and bagged groceries at the south end Safeway. Later, what he considered his favorite job was with a survey crew in the mountains above Birch Mountain and later, even at Naches Pass. For these labors, he was paid $60.00 per month, including room and board (which he often referred to as being in “Fat City”). He helped put himself through law school by washing dishes, waiting tables and stoking the furnace at a fraternity house. While awaiting the outcome of the Bar Exam, Jerry was employed by Valley Title Company and was selected to head the Federal Census in Wenatchee. Hanna was hooked on class reunions and he and his committee, nicknamed the “Darlings,” held the first high school reunion in 1974, which included especially all ball players and then coaches, Lazarawitch, Scott and Paski. This reunion was repeated again in 1950, 1955 and 1960. Not content to sit still and take up space, Jerry put together eight local citizens who enjoyed fishing, named them “The Wild Bunch” and they took over Westport, WA on an annual basis for many years. “We never got skunked, and even had our own flag,” he said. The Hanna’s backyard lent itself to sufficient space for a few fruit trees and some vegetables, as his green thumb took over and bounty was shared with friends and neighbors. Recently, in May of 2009, Jerry received notice from the Alumni Association of Valparaiso University that he had been selected as one of the One Hundred Fifty Alumni in school history as an “Outstanding Alumnus” in the field of Law/Politics/Government and Military. Dean of the Law School, Jay Conison, was quoted as saying, “Jerry is highly deserving of the honor as truly representative of Valparaiso traditions.”
Traditional Services will be held at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 16, 2010, at Jones & Jones~Betts Memorial Chapel, with Rev. Kel Groseclose and Chaplain Keith Kirkpatrick co-officiating. Burial will be in the family plot at the Wenatchee City Cemetery. Visitation will be Friday, October 15, 2010, from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society or the Wenatchee High School Scholarship Fund. Please express your thoughts and memories on the online guest book at jonesjonesbetts.com. Arrangements by Jones & Jones~Betts Funeral Home, Wenatchee.