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.