Sunday, November 04, 2012

R.I.P. Bill Hanson

William Lewis Hanson

Last Saturday, the 27th,  I attended a memorial service for Bill Hanson.
Bill was one of the first people I remember meeting at the WSBA's World Peace Through Law Section. I'd joined the section in the run-up to the Iraq War, concerned that there was almost not serious discussion of its illegality. While I don't think the Section got very far with that, it did seem to be a very thoughtful group of people dealing with interesting subjects, and I've stuck around for ten years.
Bill was a very insightful elderly man. He was always kind and forceful - an interesting combination. We didn't see each other a lot; he stopped coming to meetings a few years ago, but he was not a person one forgets.
At his memorial family and friends talked about his wide range of interests and activities. His parents were Baptist missionaires in Shanghai, so his early childhood was spent in China. During the Japanese invasion, he was playing with an unexploded bomb, when it exploded and gave him a lifelong hand injury. He was sent back to America where he served as a conscientious objector during the war, performing some sort of nonmilitary service. Graduating from top colleges he decided to become a lawyer, with a practice in family law and in business law ... an interesting combination. He was instrumental in the formation of many Northwest institution, such as PCC and REI, the latter a natural fit as he was an enthusiastic outdoorsman.
At the remembrance his children and grandchildren agreed that they didn't realize, as kids, that their father or grandfather was unusual; I can attest that he was as humble as he was effectual, and treated everyone with respect.
I'm glad I was able to sit at the edge of the remembrance and realize that I had briefly be in touch with greatness, and given an example to follow.
Seattle Times Obiturary

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