Richard J. Hanaway of Holderness, 88, Has Died

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Richard Hanaway

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

Dick was born on October 15, 1934, to Katherine L. (Ryan) Hanaway 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 and a slot on their extraordinarily successful swim team. Upon graduation, class of ‘56 with a B.A. in English, Dick headed to Harlingen, TX Air Force Base for his navigation and pilot training.

After becoming one of our nation’s Cold War air defense warriors, Dick was stationed for three years active duty at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, NY, where he flew backseat in an F-89 Scorpion. He returned to RI to begin his business career, joined the Air National Guard, and started his family. He and his brother Jim then flew with atomic warheads under their wings, staying combat ready for low-level insertion and transport missions anywhere in the world, for more than a decade. While flying with the Air Guard, Dick was also teaching high school English in Barrington, RI. A teacher popular with both students and faculty, Dick served as senior class advisor and earned an M.A.T. from Rhode Island College.

As youngsters, 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 to run things never left him.  Inseparable  Irish twins, Dick and Jim, along with their lifelong friend Alan Goldman, swam, schooled and flew together, raised their families together, and went into business together. With Dick’s sister-in law Barbara’s fine cooking skills and a cement mixer, they produced Krisppe Clam Cake Batter Mix. He also ran a car wash and began managing rental properties.

Dick believed that Life begins at risk. He had no financial safety net.  Early on he concluded that getting insurance was betting against himself.  He lived in the space of possibility, imagining what he could accomplish.  He believed Life was always out in front of him.  In 1983 at Wonderland Ballroom, 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, and developed properties and condominiums. He became the regional distributor of French Mountain Log Homes. He was a member of the Society of Exchange Counselors. In the late 1970’s he finished his Air Force career as a Liaison Officer for the Air Force Academy. Starting in 1988, and continuing until his death, Dick built and managed housing for Very Low Income, Elderly and Disabled tenants. In 2003, he built a self-storage facility in Campton, NH.  To Laurie Kass, his office manager of 35 years, he would often declare “I couldn’t have done it without you, your hard work, dedication and loyalty”. 

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

Dick was in his 50’s when he realized he had “enough.” 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 had 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 his gifting, and he hoped his example would encourage others to realize that anyone can make a contribution to enhance their town and campus. Weighing in on the Silver Hall expansion in the heart of Plymouth, “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 Bill Farrell, Dick and Betty made a generous contribution to Silver Hall with the proviso that the arts center be a bridge between the town and the campus. When the Plymouth State ski team needed help and when it was time for PSU to have its own hockey facility, they were there again, as they were repeatedly, for good projects. They received the Chancellor’s Award from Plymouth State College in 1993; they also received the Richard E. Collins Medal for Distinguished Philanthropy and in 2011 honorary Doctorates of Business from Plymouth State University. 

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

His generosity also included gifts to the La Salle Academy in Providence, RI; Plymouth Regional High School in Plymouth, NH; Holderness Prep School in Holderness, NH; and a major gift to Colgate University. Starting in 1990, Dick served Colgate University on the Alumni Board, the Alumni Corporation, and the Alumni Association. In 1996 he received Colgate’s distinguished Maroon Citation.

It didn’t matter if he was hiking in the nearby White Mountains or the Alps, in the Himalayas or on the roofs of Africa and South America – all with Olympic Silver Medalist Penny Pitou — Dick never lost his desire to be tramping in the woods. He wanted to experience walking a thousand miles, so in several pieces from 1994 to 1998, sometimes with friends Ed and Doug, he hiked the 2,168 mile Appalachian Trail, which includes the southern half of Vermont’s Long Trail. By the close of 1998, they’d been to the summit of five continents and to the high point of all 50 states. They completed the northern half of the Long Trail in 2009.

For years, Dick and Betty met buddies three days a week for short, early morning bike rides. To mark the new millennium, they saw the country by bicycling from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Next they pedaled the eastern seaboard from Campobello, NB to Key West, FL. In 2005, they biked from Indian Wells, CA to Jacksonville, FL. Then in 2009 they went to Westport, WA and bicycled down to San Diego, CA.

Of all the sports that Dick participated in, it was golf that meant the most. For many years, he played three mornings a week with Art, Bob, and Gerd. Each winter he joined Eddie, Mike, and Peter in the Dominican Republic to compete for the Casa de Colgate Cup. With his friend and real estate mentor, John Conkling, both in their 70s, Dick also canoed or sea kayaked all of the major rivers and lakes of Maine, and in NH, they did Squam Lake then the length of Lake Winnipesaukee in a single day.

Dick was on a lifelong quest for self-improvement, reading a biography or non-fiction book a month.   Whether he was learning how to rollerblade, thwack a pickle ball, skate-ski, water ski, or go heli-skiing, he thrilled to the challenge. Even into his late 70’s and 80’s, his passion for learning never diminished. Dick added weekly jaunts to MA to learn West Coast Swing and the Texas Two-step. He skied and golfed for 80 years, danced for half of that, and competed in all three. Attending PSU Professor Manny Sterling’s “Are You Afraid of Opera” class was a highlight each fall. Dick continued to take dance, skiing, golf, tai chi, and tennis lessons until he physically 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% always. He faced his 1995 diagnosis of heart disease, then his 7-bypass surgery in 2000, and more recently the debilitating ravages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with grace and courage.

Dick was predeceased by his infant son, Thomas; older brother, James F. Hanaway Jr.; and younger brother, Paul J. Hanaway, who also flew for the Air force and the Air National Guard. Dick leaves behind his wife of 38 years, Betty Hanaway; three daughters, Chris Morgan of Portsmouth, NH, Carrie Kendig of Kailua Kona, HI, and Kelly Merchant of Kennebunk, ME; sisters-in-law Barbara Hanaway and Ruth Hanaway of Greenville, RI; cousin Ted Windle of Apopka, FL; grandchildren Kate Anne, Morgan, Kyle, Brandon, Libby, and Rob; and nieces and nephews Dawn, Jeff, Deb, and John.

The family would like to thank Scott Boulter, Tina McClay, Laurie and Frank Reed, and all of the Pemi-Baker Hospice team for their compassionate care. In addition, the family appreciates 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 memory care and Parkinson’s units at these facilities: The Glencliff Home, Attn: Patient Welfare Fund, 393 High Street, P.O. Box 76, Glencliff, NH 03238; Golden View Healthcare Center, Attn: Golden View Resident’s Fund, 19 NH Route 104, Meredith, NH 03253; and Pemi-Baker Hospice and Home Health, 101 Boulder Point Drive, Suite 3, Plymouth, NH 03264 or Alzheimer’s Foundation of America 322 8th Avenue, 16th floor, New York NY 10001; American Parkinson’s Disease Association, P.O. Box 61420 Staten Island New York 10306.

We invite you to join us as we celebrate Dick’s life in the Hanaway Theater at Plymouth State University on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 1:00 P.M. 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 Tauton Ave., Seekonk, MA 02771. Please bring favorite pictures and stories to share.

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