Long-time Montgomery and Rockville political figure died Saturday at 89
Funeral set for Friday at St. Mary's Catholic Church
Kathy Hanna Copmann said her father, William E. Hanna Jr., a former Montgomery County political leader, cared about two things above all God and his family.
Copmann, one of Hanna's seven daughters, said service was important to the World War II veteran and former Rockville mayor, Rockville councilman and Montgomery County councilman, who died Saturday.
"That was just part of him, he just gave of himself," Copmann said. "Everyone will have their own special memory of him and I think that's where people should go to remember him how he impacted their life."
Hanna, of Rockville, is remembered for spurring the county's focus on biotechnology, the arts and moderately priced housing. He would have been 90 years old on Jan. 25.
Visitations are being held between 3 and 5 p.m. and between 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday at St. Mary's Catholic Church of Rockville. His funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, also at St. Mary's. Both are open to the public.
Hanna was elected to the Rockville City Council in 1968. He served as mayor from 1974 to 1982 and was a member of the Montgomery County Council from 1982 to 1998.
Hanna sponsored a county law requiring that art projects be included in all newly constructed public buildings, such as schools and fire stations. He helped pass a similar law while on the Rockville council.
"He just felt when things were bad that people needed beautiful things to look at," said Merle Steiner, Hanna's longtime aide. "He just really thought that brought culture to everybody."
Students in Montgomery County Public Schools, who are unable to attend museums, now have art in their schools, she said.
Steiner was Hanna's aide while he was on the County Council.
"(Hanna) pioneered the county's investment in life sciences, which directly led to our preeminent position as one of the world's leading biotech centers," said County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who served with Hanna for 12 years on the County Council. "He was a ferocious proponent for the arts and humanities, understanding full well how the arts enrich us all. He was an early champion of affordable housing."
As a council member, Hanna championed the county's Moderately Priced Dwelling Units program, which was seen as a national model. The county zoning code was adjusted to permit construction of higher-density and therefore more profitable housing, in exchange for an agreement by developers to build a set number of moderately priced units on the same development sites.
"The county's top ranking in biotech, in particular, owes much to his vision," County Council President Valerie Ervin (D-Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said in a statement Monday.
State Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville said that Hanna helped develop the master plans and vision to develop the county's life sciences industry. It also was his vision to make the area west of Interstate 270 an economic development corridor, she said.
Hanna, who lived in the same Woodley Gardens neighborhood as Forehand, gave her a start in politics when she worked on his first campaign. And several of Hanna's daughters baby-sat Forehand's children, she said.
"He was just really a fantastic public servant," Forehand said. "He knew what to do, and how to do it."
Steiner said Hanna was fiercely committed to serving the public.
"He didn't do things for political reasons," she said. "He did things because he really believed in them.
"Whether you agreed with him or not, you had to admire his integrity," she added.
Before joining the Rockville City Council, Hanna worked as a senior official at the Social Security Administration and NASA. Hanna told his family his favorite job was being mayor of Rockville.
While he was mayor, Rockville received two All-American City awards, and designed a city flag and a city seal. The city also adopted the Peregrine falcon as its official mascot.
Mayor Phyllis Marcuccio got her start in city politics with an appointment to the Rockville Housing Authority, courtesy of Hanna.
"He left such a mark on the city we will always think of him many times over," Marcuccio said. "He was truly a mayor that gave his all to the city and was the man in my mind that set us up to grow from a small town to a city."
Author and local historian Eileen McGuckian quoted Hanna in her book, "Rockville: Portrait of a City."
"A task and continuing strength of Rockville is its willingness to move ahead to meet change, rather than waiting for change to overtake it," the quote reads.
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