My dear sweet father, Richard Joseph Hannon, has gone to be with my mother, Mary Ann Hannon, and his son, the deceased Richard Henry Hannon, my brother and father to Nicole. After a long, glorious life well lived – and then some – Richard’s final year was a long struggle. After all, he was a strong, stubborn old saw who didn’t like giving in to anything.
Dad came from that generation of great men who were lovers of life, protectors of families, their communities and our country. That old cliché “they don’t build them like that anymore” has never rang truer. Because most certainly they do not.
He was his mother’s favorite son, or so he said. And to the contrary, a challenge for his father. Always a rogue spirit—Dad loved a party, especially to celebrate his birthday or the 4th of July on Monroe Terrace. He was ready to dance at any moment, and became a very good dancer over the years. Music really moved him—from the big-band, swing era sounds of Glen Miller to Tommy Dorsey’s sweet trombone jazz.
Dad would tell anyone who would listen about Glen Miller’s decision to join the war effort, giving up a steady paycheck at home to join the Army and look after their wartime band. Inevitably, this would lead to more stories about that time in our nation’s history—anecdotes of long trips spent on boats with other men, writing letters home to those whom they loved, and having adventures half way around the world.
Even more than music though, Dad loved his wife of 50 years, Mary Ann, or “Peachy” as he lovingly, and very appropriately, called her. Richard and Mary met here in this very city, Olean, when he returned home from serving, and their great journey of love and life began. And, what a beautiful couple they were. Even after she passed, you could see that gentle sparkle come over him, that tender twinkle in his eye, when we talked about his dear sweet wife.
Like Mary Ann, Dad loved his two children more than anything, though truth be told, he could be a bit of a taskmaster with my brother Dick and I. The Marine Corp approach to discipline was never far away in his mind. But he was an excellent father. He taught Dick to be a good man, to hunt and to fish, to love the outdoors and appreciate music – with many a day and night spent together at their beloved Camp Otzinachson in Pennsylvania, chasing deer through the snow and telling tales by the fire. In his later years, he would comb the camp trails with his granddaughters or great grandchildren, pointing to trees, humming with the birds and conjuring memories of days gone by in the woods with his employer, the New York Department of Conservation.
The Warden – as my cousins came to call him – and my mother were a favorite aunt and uncle couple of the family; they’d go with their friends to visit at their home on 6th Street or Henley, sharing stories of woe and wonder. And, it wasn’t just a nickname, Dad was highly regarded as a game warden by his fellow officers in the Department of Conservation. I remember one colleague told me he was the most honest man he ever met. And, I believed him. You didn’t want to be over your fishing quota or hunting without a license with the Warden hot on your trail. Rest assured, he’d find you.
Always quick with a joke and of considerable wit, he had names for just about everyone: “Boon-doccers” for the Bares; “rent dwellers” for the Campanellas, and so on. He liked to tell his great grandchildren that his cane was for lifting lady’s skirts – much to their amusement.
We were always good pals and, in his later years, we certainly had our share of adventures—big and small. Memories of visiting California, Ireland, Canada, Texas to see the Barillos, or just taking a drive on a perfect sunny day – taking in the sights or sounds, and spending time passing the day.
I’ve been so blessed to have such a wonderful father/daughter relationship with dad, and I cherish our many memories together. He will be greatly missed – not just by me but so many others here today. Thank you so much for coming and helping us pay tribute to Dad—I think he would be happy to see everyone assembled here today. Though if you’re not a Green Bay Packers fan, you best keep that to yourself.
I am happy in knowing he is in a better place—with my mother, brother and too many friends to count. No doubt he’s living his perfect day: he’s out hunting, maybe doing some ice fishing today, driving his vehicle on a road with no traffic, and dancing the Chattanooga Choo Choo with his dear sweet wife.
We miss you already, dad. May god speed and our considerable love deliver you safely and gently to eternity’s warm embrace.