William C. J. “Willie” Hanson passed on June 21, following a lengthy illness. His wife Betty preceded him in 2005. Born in Iowa in 1929, his mother passed away shortly after, and he was raised by his grandparents in Kansas before entering a military boarding school. Graduating from Kendall College in 1951, he joined the military to serve in the Korean Conflict as an air traffic controller—the beginning of a 37-year association with the Air Force.
Following his active-duty service, he earned a degree in aeronautical engineering in 1962 from the University of Washington and took a job with Boeing. The economic downturn in Seattle led to a career move to the Bremerton Shipyard, where he remained for 25 years. He retired from the Air Force Reserves in 1988 as a Senior Master Sergeant. The 1950s and ‘60s saw him climb every significant peak in the North Cascades and Olympics, most several times. He also loved rock climbing, and roped up with many friends, including Willi Unsoeld, one of the first Americans to summit Everest.
An avid marksman, he volunteered for many years at the Miracle Ranch youth camp near Purdy as a marksmanship instructor. Following retirement, he served on humanitarian projects, assisting with flood recovery in Centralia and school repairs in Nome, Alaska. He also contributed generously to the community food bank in Gig Harbor. Possessing an uncanny memory and unique sense of humor, he often regaled family and friends with poetry and song memorized throughout his lifetime. He leaves two stepchildren, three grandchildren, and two great grandkids, all of whom call him grandpa, along with one niece. The going home service will be held at Harbor Covenant Church, 5601 Gustafson Dr NW, Gig Harbor at 2pm on Saturday, August 11. Interment will be at Tahoma National Cemetery.