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Celebration of Life: Dick Hanaway

September 16, 2023 @ 1:00 pm 5:00 pm

Thirty years ago, Richard (Dick) J. Hanaway danced the Tango with his wife Betty atop Mount McKinley – the highest point in Alaska, and his third continental summit. On April 20, 2023, Dick (88) died at his home in Holderness, NH, with Betty by his side as she had been for 40 years.

Dick was born on October 15, 1934 to Katherine L. and James F. Hanaway, and raised in East Providence, RI. His three years of swimming for La Salle Academy (‘52) earned him a full scholarship to Colgate University (‘56) and a slot on their extraordinary swim team. Upon graduation with a B.A. in English, Dick headed to Harlingen Air Force Base, TX for navigation and pilot training.

As one of our nation’s Cold War air defense warriors, Dick was stationed for three years at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome NY, where he flew backseat in an F-89. He returned to RI, began his business career, joined the Air National Guard and started his family. He and his brother Jim flew with atomic warheads under their wings, staying combat-ready for low-level insertion and transport missions, for more than 10 years. While flying with the Air Guard, Dick was also teaching English at Barrington High, serving as senior class advisor and earning his M.A.T. from Rhode Island College.

Growing up, Dick and his older brother Jim worked for their father’s newspaper distributorship where Dick developed a taste for running his own business. The thirst never left him. Inseparable Irish twins, Dick and Jim with their lifelong friend Alan Goldman, swam, schooled and flew together, raised their families and went into business together. With Dick’s sister-in-law’s cooking skills and a cement mixer, they produced Krisppe Clam Cake Batter Mix. He ran a car wash and began managing rental properties.

Dick believed that Life begins at risk. He lived in the space of possibility, imagining what he could accomplish. He believed that Life was out in front of him and at Wonderland Ballroom in Revere MA he met Betty, a kindred spirit. She was his constant companion on every adventure, summit and byway.

In the late 1960’s, Dick followed his high school dream of living in the mountains and came to NH. Here under the guidance of John Conkling, he learned about Real Estate sales. Soon he created subdivisions, built homes, condominiums and developed properties. In the late 1970’s he finished his Air Force career as a Liaison Officer for the Air Force Academy. Starting in 1988, Dick built and managed housing for Very Low Income, Elderly and Disabled tenants. In 2003, he built a self-storage facility. To Laurie Kass, his office manager of 35 years, he would declare “I couldn’t have done it without you, your hard work, dedication and loyalty”.

When Dick moved to NH he got involved in his new community. He helped clean up the Pemigewasset River and served on town boards. Dick and Al Ports started Honors Court. In Waterville Valley, he volunteered with the Adaptive Ski Program for a decade.

Dick was in his 50’s when he realized he didn’t need “more”. He wanted to give back and express his gratitude to the educational institutions and the community that had opened up for him a world of opportunities. As a young competitive swimmer, Dick realized people wouldn’t let him drown so he could give everything he had. He never stopped. Being a street-savvy small businessman, he wanted to get the “biggest bang” for his buck with gifting. He hoped his example would encourage others to realize that anyone can contribute to their town. Weighing in on the Silver Hall expansion, “Disco Dick” wondered “Beethoven to the Beatles, does anything nurture community and connect folks more than music, shared performances and the fine arts?” Deciding to give all he could was easy.

At the behest of former PSC President Farrell, Dick and Betty made a generous contribution to the Silver Center for the Arts expansion with the proviso that it be a bridge between town and campus. He was there when PSC’s ski team needed help and again when it was time for PSU to have its own hockey facility. They received the Chancellor’s Award from PSC in 1993, the Richard E. Collins Medal for Distinguished Philanthropy and in 2011 an Honorary Doctorate of Business from Plymouth State University.

Dick’s entrepreneurial spirit served the community well when, at the request of dear friend Steve Rand, Dick became involved in MAIN STREET 2000, and again when in 2009, NH Music Festival was foundering. Dick was approached and successfully took the helm of S.O.O.N. (Save Our Orchestra Now).

His generosity included La Salle in Providence RI, Plymouth High School, Holderness Prep School and a major gift to Colgate University. Dick served on Colgate’s Alumni Board and the Alumni Corporation. In 1996 he received Colgate’s distinguished Maroon Citation.

It didn’t matter if he was hiking in the White Mountains or the Alps, in the Himalayas or onto the roofs of Africa and South America – all with Olympic Silver Medalist Penny Pitou – Dick never lost his desire to be in the mountains. He wanted to experience walking a thousand miles so in sections, from 1994-98, he hiked the 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail. By November 1998, they’d been to the summits of 5 continents and all 50 states. He completed the Vermont Long Trail in 2009.

To mark the new millennium, they bicycled from the Pacific to the Atlantic, then pedaled from Campobello to Key West. In 2005 they bicycled from Indian Wells CA to Jacksonville FL. In 2009 they went back to Westport WA and biked to San Diego CA.

Dick’s favorite sport was golf. Each winter he competed for the Casa de Colgate Cup at Casa de Campo. In their 70’s, Dick and John Conkling canoed the rivers and lakes of Maine, and the length of Lake Winnipesaukee in a single day.

Whether Dick was learning to rollerblade, thwack a pickle ball, skate-ski, waterski, heli-ski or skydive, he thrilled to each challenge. Into his late 70’s and 80’s, his passionate quest for self-improvement never diminished and he added weekly jaunts to learn new dances. He skied and golfed for 80 years, danced for 40 and competed in all 3. Professor Sterling’s “Are You Afraid of Opera?” class was an annual highlight. Dick continued to take golf, dance, Tai Chi and tennis lessons until he no longer could. His spiritual programs including retreats, E.S.T. and 47 years of continuous sobriety within the fellowship of AA sustained him.

Dick was determined to live life at 100%. He faced his 1995 diagnosis of heart disease, his 7 by-pass surgery in 2000, and the debilitation from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with acceptance.

Dick was predeceased by his infant son Thomas; older brother James F. Hanaway Jr.; younger brother Paul J. Hanaway. Dick leaves behind his wife Betty; daughters Chris Morgan, Carrie Kendig and Kelly Merchant; sisters-in-law Barbara and Ruth Hanaway; grandchildren Kate Ann, Morgan, Kyle, Brandon, Libby and Rob; nieces and nephews Dawn, Jeff, Deb and John.

The family would like to thank Scott Boulter, Tina McClay, Laurie and Frank Reed and the Pemi-Baker Hospice team and the assistance of Mayhew Funeral Home, Plymouth NH and Perry-McStay Funeral Home, East Providence RI.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: the Glencliff Home, Attn. Patient Welfare Fund; Goldenview HealthCare and Rehab Center, Meredith, NH; Pemi-Baker Hospice and Home Health, Plymouth, NH.

Please join us in Hanaway Theater on Saturday, September 16th at 1:00 P.M. as we celebrate Dick’s life. There will also be a service at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 550 Wampanoag Trail, Riverside, RI, 02915, on September 23, 2023 at 11:00 A.M. followed by a celebration of Dick’s life at Benjamin’s Restaurant, 213 Taunton Ave., Seekonk MA 02771.

114 Main Street
Plymouth, New Hampshire 03264 United States
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