William Barnes Hanna

William Barnes Hanna

May 10, 1999 – June 30, 2023

From the time he could walk, Will loved boxes, backpacks and bags. Anything that could hold his stuff. If you were lucky, he might let you have a “quick peek.” Let’s unbox the amazing personality of Will Hanna.

Will was a BIG presence. Let’s start with the boxes, backpacks and bags. When he was little, he loved anything that could hold his stuff. You might find a collection of rocks, flashlights or knives. As he grew up, he exchanged his love of material collections for one that went everywhere with him…tattoos! His first (much to the dismay of Dad, “Big Mike” and Mom “Meesh”) was a Mickey eared EKG over his heart ON his 18th birthday. Many more followed, with his most recent just last week on a family trip to Colorado, a compass with mountains to guide his way. (Will inherited his sense of direction, or lack thereof, from his mom, so an actual compass might have been a good idea as well.)

Growing up in the woods of “Camp Hillandale,” the Hanna family home in Elkhorn, likely inspired his enduring love of the outdoors and all of God’s creatures.  With as many critters inside their home as out, his dog, Walter and his cat, Wink held a special place in his heart.

When you’re a Hanna, animals and people are loved equally. Let’s be honest, animals often take priority over people; and Will was ALL Hanna. His parents, Mike and Michelle, big brother, “Big A” and little sister, “K-rea” were his most amazing source of love and support . With his Dad’s encouragement to pursue his passion and always work hard, and his Mom’s contagious empathy and strong influence as a Veterinarian, Will had a God-given gift to achieve whatever he set his mind to. That’s also a gentle way of saying he was endlessly stubborn.

Will went to St. Wenceslaus Grade School and Middle School. He attended Skutt Catholic High School where he was very involved in many activities and made a point of being friends with many of his fellow Skyhawks. He graduated in 2017 and was one of two students to receive the VJ Skutt Outstanding Student Award.  During high school and college and to the present, Will worked at The Pet Clinic for many years, a veterinary hospital in Southwest Omaha. He loved helping and caring for all of the patients and clients, and The Pet Clinic team was so good at helping him learn everything he could about veterinary medicine, never tiring from his many questions and ideas.

Will went on to Creighton University for his undergraduate studies in Chemistry. He received the 2018 Department of Chemistry Freshman General Chemistry Student Award. Always looking to help, Will often tutored fellow students at CU. He loved Creighton and was an avid CU hoops fan, attending his first game at the age of two. He was accepted two years early into the University of Nebraska/Iowa State University Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine program.  He was preparing to move to Ames in early August to begin his third year of Vet school.

There are so many Will stories to share…whether that be Will buying lunch for a homeless woman in need at the Subway near 24th and Cuming Street, but also having to remind the woman to be kind to the Subway team member who was helping her or Will would not buy her sandwich. Or just two weeks ago, during the family vacation in Colorado in June, when Will essentially jumped out of the moving SUV that Big Mike was driving on a very steep segment of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park to rescue a very young fawn and reunite her with her Mom.

We are so thankful for the many family trips to Disney and Colorado which resulted in dozens of incredible travel journals (at times annotated by Will to ensure his side of the story was being heard) and memory jars throughout their home. What often isn’t in the memory jar, is a good picture of Will as he simply REFUSED to allow one to be taken. In hindsight, maybe more goats were required.

Will was very open about the fact that he suffered from major depressive disorder over the past nine years.  He fought oh so hard and worked with several excellent doctors, nurses, and therapists who helped him on an incredibly challenging journey through severe mental illness. For most of 2023, he was in a really good place…which makes this all so hard to say goodbye to our Will, but we know he is no longer suffering and is at peace.

On Friday we all know Will was likely greeted by St. Francis and a herd of excited furry friends and we’re certain his first words were “Hi, can I pet your dog?”

Will is survived by his parents, Mike and Michelle (Dewey) Hanna; big brother Adam (Grace) Boothe-Hanna; little sister Kelsey Hanna (Jared Thonen); grandmother “Granny Janny” Jan (Jahnke) Dewey; grandfather Leslie (Judy) Dewey; grandmother Sandie Hanna; aunts, uncles and cousins: Jeff and Lisa (Dewey) Vaske, Ben & Ashley; Lesley Dewey (Greg Van Scoyk), Charley & Graham Fortun; Mary and Matt Christensen, Grace & Claire; Patrick and Kathy Hanna, Noley & Griffin; Kate and Jeff Bush, Hanna, Ellie, Dunavan, & Henry; Meg and Bill Amundsen, Elizabeth & Nevin; beautiful friend Ellie Petree; adoring dog Walt, and one-eyed cat, Wink. Preceded in death by his grandfather, John Hanna.

Please join us to celebrate Will:
VISITATION: Wednesday, July 5th from 5pm to 7pm at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church, 15353 Pacific, followed by VIGIL SERVICE at 7pm.  MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL: Thursday, July 6th at 11am at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church with luncheon immediately following. To celebrate Will’s larger-than-life personality, everyone is invited to wear clothes representing his favorite things such as Creighton, Colorado, Disney, Star Wars, Animals/Vet med or scrubs. Anyone who knew Will, knows he hated being formal and said one of the perks of being in veterinary medicine is the ability to wear scrubs every day! In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to HSUS (Humane Society of the United States) and/or NOMV (Not One More Vet).

To view live broadcasts of the Vigil Service and Mass, please visit www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Cast” button at the top of the home page.




  • Jacob Benson Posted July 2, 2023 3:21 pm

    Will was a great friend to many and had a wonderful sense of humor. He always knew how to make someone smile on a difficult day. He will be missed greatly.

  • Lisa Garrett Posted July 2, 2023 3:23 pm

    So sorry to g
    Hear about Will. Praying that God comfort La your family

  • Brenda & Jessi Wessel Posted July 3, 2023 7:17 am

    It’s hard to find the words to express how truly sorry we are for what you are going through right now. It seems like just yesterday we were talking about Will and Jessi’s futures. Our prayers are with your family.

  • Pamela Bennett Posted July 3, 2023 2:41 pm

    Words are too frail a bridge to cross between such a terrible loss and acceptance. I loved Will so very much and I ache for his lovely family. He was larger than life with a kind and tender heart and such a generosity of spirit that he inspired us all. I will miss you so much always.

  • William Nevin Johnston Posted July 3, 2023 4:43 pm

    As distant relatives and people who have the highest regard for the Hanna family, Susan and I send our love and sincere condolences to each of you. Will had tremendous talents and we wish we had known him better.

  • Bette Kavalec Posted July 4, 2023 11:24 am

    Dear Dr. Hanna, your dear son no doubt is now in the embrace by of my awesome high school Latin teacher, his remarkable grandfather, John Hanna. Good company, indeed!!! ❤️✝️❤️

  • Ellen Powell Posted July 5, 2023 7:34 am

    There are no words to express my heartfelt sympathy for your family. He was an amazing young man and I know how proud of him you were. Sending many prayers for comfort to your family at this difficult time.

  • Bette and Jay Kavalec Posted July 5, 2023 7:59 am

    Dr. Hanna, our very sincere condolences. I know Will is in the safe, loving embrace of his Lord Jesus and in the happy company of his remarkable grandfather, John.🌷

  • Walt , Chris, Koda and Smokie Anderson Posted July 5, 2023 8:14 am

    We are so very sorry to learn of Will’s passing. He was so very kind to us during Koda’s recent illness. Michelle has been our vet for almost 20 years and Will had her heart for people and animals for sure. Sending hugs and prayers to his family and friends.

  • Scott Ferguson Posted July 5, 2023 10:27 am

    There are no words in any language to how sad we all are about the loss of Will. All I can offer is the hope that the Lord of peace himself give you peace and healing at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you.

  • Natalie Ryan Posted July 5, 2023 4:06 pm

    I am so incredibly sorry for the pain your Family is having to go through at this time. May it give you peace that Will is with you always and there may be some signs that you see from time to time. I know that this was sudden and for whatever the reason he is with The Lord and his Animal friends who have crossed over. He was such a Wonderful and Kind young man. PRAYERS AND THOUGHTS FOR YOUR FAMILY CONTINUED!

  • Maureen Leonard Posted July 5, 2023 4:19 pm

    Dear Hanna Family, My thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this sad time. My God keep you in his loving arms during this time. Maureen Leonard

  • Naina Schneckenberger Posted July 5, 2023 5:52 pm

    We are so saddened to hear about the loss of Will. Our hearts are heavy with you. What an amazing young man. May God’s love and peace hold each of you close. 💙

  • Cindy Sitorius-Brown Posted July 6, 2023 10:09 am

    Just found out and am so sad for entire family. I know how close the entire family is and the loss of one of you will be hard for all. God is with you as always …and with him always. Love to you all

  • Jennifer Callahan Posted July 6, 2023 11:10 am

    Michelle and family, I am so deeply saddened for your tragic loss. Will must have been a magical soul that you were all so blessed to have known and loved best. What a precious gift his life was to you all. I pray you all continue to experience his love and presence from his heavenly home. Praying for you all.

  • Bill & Jane Foral Posted July 6, 2023 11:15 am

    May Will rest in peace.
    Words are hard to come by at a time like this so we will just say our prayers for your family.

  • Jane McGinty Posted July 6, 2023 1:34 pm

    Michelle, my heart aches for your loss. Remembering Will as a vibrant, compassionate, humorous “Vet-in-Training” who handled my Winnie with such a natural professionalism and gentleness, and was so proud to be working alongside of you. Also loved those “tats” which seemed such a part of him! His testimonial recognizes a young man with such special gifts but who had to fight such a hard, cruel battle. I know he has found his peace. My thoughts and heartfelt prayers are always with you as you and your family find your peace.

  • Tom Sena Posted July 6, 2023 6:05 pm

    Mike, Michelle and the whole family,
    I’m so very sorry to hear of this. Will was a great friend to my sons at Wenc. He reminded me a lot of Mike, whom I’d known since our grade school days at St Roberts. Gentle giants, both of them. Later as we would bring our dog Sam to Michelle at the pet clinic I was struck when I was greeted by a grown up, Will. He was even more of a giant but so professional and kind. He looked right at me with a grin, knowing who I was. I was so impressed with his manner I probably had my mouth open. I remember thinking how proud his parents must have been. He was a kid you were going to remember. He had a light. My heart breaks. Peace and love to you all.

  • Paula and Vince Lenz Posted July 9, 2023 7:59 pm

    My heart is saddened for the Hanna Family. Will was extraordinary in every way: respectful to adults and peers, Faith FIlled, kind and loving to humans and non humans – a true friend of St. Francis. My love and prayers continue for all of you.
    Mrs. Paula Lenz
    Skutt Catholic, teacher retired

  • Jackie Lohrke Posted July 23, 2023 8:31 am

    To the family of Will so very sorry for your loss. I didn’t know him but was struck by your write up in loving memory of your son. From someone who knows the devastation of the illness I commend you for breaking the silence. Wishing peace to Will and his loved ones.

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