By Emilie Coulter
It was a shared sense of adventure that brought Holderness residents and business owners Dick and Betty Hanaway together decades ago. They met on a disco dance floor in Revere, Massachusetts. “I didn’t know my left foot from my right foot,” Betty says, but that didn’t matter to Dick. They danced and had a cup of coffee at Denny’s, but, as Dick says, “where the magic and Cupid came in, I don’t really know.” Soon after, they went on a hike together, and then, Dick says with a smile, “she just kind of stuck around.”
To this day, whether traveling in Turkey, as they did recently to celebrate Dick’s 80th birthday, or being among the first couples ever to climb the highest point of all 50 states, or circumnavigating the United States by bicycle, the pair beats back the fear Dick articulates of “looking out the window with nothing to do.” After all, he says, “you’re just putting your days in if you’re not trying new things. Life begins at risk.” Betty agrees: “You can’t be connected with the real world if there’s a safety net for everything you do.”
Even though neither of them even set foot on campus until long after their own college days, the Hanaways feel a deep connection to PSU. “It’s our home,” Betty says, “so anything that enhances the University enhances our life. There are so many cultural events we take advantage of that wouldn’t happen if PSU wasn’t thriving and flourishing. It keeps the town alive.” This appreciation has led the Hanaways to give generously to the University over the past two decades, supporting programs and major building projects that have enhanced the positive relationship between PSU and the community. From performances in the 665-seat Hanaway Theatre at Silver Center for the Arts, to birthday parties and hockey games at the Hanaway Rink, tens of thousands have benefited from the Hanaways’ philanthropy.
Now the University has once again been on the receiving end of the Hanaways’ boundless goodwill, accepting a generous planned gift, the largest bequest in the history of the institution. “There can be no greater return than educating future generations,” Betty says.
The Hanaways’ gift is bringing the University closer to reaching its ambitious Imagine A Way fundraising campaign goal of 20 million dollars. Funds from this campaign will increase support for student scholarships, faculty development, and PSU’s Active Living, Learning, and Wellness (ALLWell) North Center. As avid hikers, bicyclists, skiers, pickleball players, and ballroom dancers, Dick and Betty are particularly excited about how ALLWell will position the University as a center for health education and wellness in the region. And because the Hanaway’s planned gift is unrestricted, University leaders will be able to allocate the funds to align with future strategic priorities.
President Sara Jayne Steen, who set the vision for the Imagine A Way campaign, has tremendous admiration and respect for the Hanaways. “Dick and Betty Hanaway have been generous supporters of Plymouth State and their commitment to this community is remarkable,” she says. “From the Hanaway Theatre to the Hanaway Rink, their names are synonymous with active living, learning, and wellness.”
Underlying every gift the Hanaways have made to Plymouth State University is their fervent hope that their generosity will inspire others and their spirit of giving is felt throughout the North Country and Lakes Region. Whether volunteering with the adaptive ski program at Waterville Valley, uniting the community to revitalize downtown Plymouth, or showing support for the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Hanaways are great believers in “maintaining a presence in the unfolding world,” as Dick puts it. He and Betty have always preferred to get involved in what they call “the soul of the community,” to help keep it alive and well. Dick is a master at forging connections between people, matching resource to resource, and drumming up enthusiastic support for any cause he believes in. “We get going gangbusters, full-bore ahead,” Dick says. “We get excited about life itself. And we find ourselves in doing the next right thing. Nothing extraordinary. Just the next right thing.”
The Hanaways’ bold gift will allow students, faculty, and community members to benefit for generations to come. “It’s part of being a good person, making the world better for the next generation,” Betty says. “We all stand on the shoulders of people who did more than they have to.”
The Hanaways are proud members of the Heritage Society, which honors alumni and friends who have made provisions for Plymouth State in their estate plans. Find more information about the myriad ways you can support Plymouth State University, as a friend, an alumna/us, or even a current student here.
Watch a video about the Hanaways!
Tags: ALLWell Center bequest Dick and Betty Hanaway donor Hanaway Hanaway Rink Hanaway Theatre Heritage Society Holderness ice arena Imagine A Way New Hampshire Music Festival planned giving Plymouth Silver Center for the Arts