James (Jim) Allen Hanna passed away July 23, 2019. A longtime resident of Rochester, he was preceded in death by his parents, Ned and Pearl Hanna of Orofino, Idaho, his son, Jonathan Hanna Sept. 3, 2015, and most recently his wife and lifelong partner, JoLynn Hanna Feb.17, 2018.
Jim is survived by his daughters, Lori Hanna of Centralia, Jennifer Ivie (Curt) of Centralia and Gerri Davis (Dan) of Olympia. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Pete Nichols of Phoenix, Ariz., Dustin Nichols of Lakewood, Colo., Tifany Palmer of Centralia and Nicole Markowitz of Lacey. Jim also immensely enjoyed his surviving great-grandchildren, Aspen and Carsen Palmer of Centralia, Wash., Teagan (Felix) Nichols of Lakewood, Colo., and Castle Busey of Lacey.
He was an avid member of the American Historical Truck Society - Local Chapter and enjoyed driving his antique fire truck in local community parades.
In honor of Jim and rather than the traditional obituary, Jim's oldest grandson, Pete Nichols wrote an amazing tribute to his beloved Grandfather that the family would like to share:
This is my Grandpa Jim (my Mom's Dad). He passed away about 3 weeks ago. This has been the most significant loss in my life to date. The grief is like nothing I've ever experienced before. With this loss and the resultant grief, I find I am experiencing compounded delayed grief over the loss of my Grandma about a year ago as well as over the loss of a couple other significant things in my life over the last 3-ish years. I don't know how to process all of it. Nothing may ever be the same.
There are no words to adequately express the depth of love, respect, and admiration I have for my Grandpa. He is without a doubt one of the very most influential people in my life, and has played one of the most significant roles in helping shape who I am as a person as well as my worldview.
My Grandpa was many things, and led a rich, interesting life. He's one of the kindest, most sincere, good-natured humans I've ever known. He was a deeply spiritual person, but not the slightest bit religious in all the time I knew him; a true mystic, but never one to care about or wear such a label. He had the most wonderful connection to and passion about the Earth and all manner of flora and fauna. To hear him share his thoughts and feelings on these topics was always a deep joy for me.
He would always take a stand for what was right, what was good, what was fair. He was not a violent or overbearing person, and at the same time he carried a particular quiet, thoughtful, resolute stature about him that commanded respect, honor, and consideration without him ever demanding as such.
He was one of the hardest-working, most driven, thoughtful, methodical, and strongest humans I've ever known. I don't think there was ever anything that he set out to do and failed to accomplish.
He served in the Army as part of a motor pool stationed in Germany. He once fabricated a long tool that would allow the removal of the lower engine mount bolts without having to wiggle down into the engine bay under the engine in the tanks his motor pool maintained and repaired. Everyone was so pleased as a result that one of the tank pilots took him for a ride after he had finished replacing an engine in one of the tanks. They rode through the streets of the small German town near their base, and stopped amidst a row of homes. It turns out the tank pilot knew a young woman who lived in one of the homes where he stopped. She opened the second story window to greet them; the tank pilot then rotated the gun turret and raised the gun barrel up near the window. She slid a bottle of wine down the empty gun barrel into the cockpit of the tank for the pilot and my Grandpa to enjoy. My Grandpa had so many amazing experiences like this throughout his life.
He worked deep in the forests of Idaho and Montana with various logging operations. He drove huge logging trucks, and had a particular fondness for the Mack brand of trucks. I remember as a child always being fascinated with the bulldog hood ornament that Mack trucks were branded with. When he sold his last Mack truck, he made it a point to remove the bulldog from the hood and give it to me because I liked it so much. He and my Grandma actually met at a logging camp; he was a logger and she was a cook for the camp. Romance blossomed and a marriage for the ages followed.
He helped build large steel ships at a shipyard in the Pacific Northwest. He was an expert welder by trade, and would weld the large steel panels together that made up the outer skins of the ships. The quality of his work caught one of the inspectors attention. This particular inspector was responsible for supervising and recruiting welders from the external ship construction team who looked to be qualified to go inside deep into the bowels of the ships to perform internal welding and construction. Nobody wanted this job; it was dark, claustrophobic, stuffy, and significantly more dangerous. One day before my Grandpa got the official call to go down inside the ship, he adjusted his welder while the inspector wasn't looking and then promptly blew a hole through some external panels he had been welding just as the inspector began watching him work again. He managed to avoid going down inside the ship as a result. He was always incredibly clever, crafty, and had a fantastic sense of humor blended in with all that.
He went on to teach welding at the collegiate level for a while. My Grandpa was an amazing teacher. I couldn't possibly begin to count all the different things he taught me in our time together. He taught me the importance of a proper handshake. That one always stands out brilliantly in my mind. He taught me about engineering and all things mechanical. He taught me the value and importance of slowing down and taking time to do a job right the first time. He taught me about working smarter instead of harder. He taught me how to use leverage and kinetic energy to manipulate and move heavy or difficult objects instead of beating up my body and relying on brute muscle strength. He taught me that all life is sacred, should be respected, and should be well cared for. He taught me how to build a safe, warm shelter for outdoor cats who needed shelter in the cold winter months. He taught me about the majestic beauty of nature and how to appreciate our surroundings. He taught me life.
With his own two hands he engineered and built the house that my Mom and her siblings spent the majority of their lives growing up in, that I spent so many joyous days in as a child, and that was a home for he and my Grandma until their final days. There are wonderful memories innumerable for me in that home and on the parcel of land it sits upon. Every year he would plant a garden for my Grandma. Together they would grow all manner of fruits and vegetables; peas, carrots, corn, cabbage, lettuce, radishes, green beans, rhubarb, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, watermelons, potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, grapes... the list goes on. There's nothing on this Earth that tastes like a carrot pulled freshly from the soil, washed off in the garden hose, and shared with my Grandpa.
The bulk of his career was spent as a heavy equipment mechanic at the local coal mine. He was factory certified by Caterpillar on Haulpak trucks, and there wasn't a single system in one of those trucks that he couldn't diagnose, repair, and/or overhaul as needed. He was a master of his craft. He mostly worked swing shift. I would lace up his work boots and tie the knots for him before he left for his shift, and we'd always shake hands when he left. My Grandma and I would stay up all night playing games and watching old monster movies on TV until his shift was over. He'd get home and sit down in his recliner where I would untie and remove his boots as well as his socks. I learned humility and loving service of others at my Grandpa's feet, and I loved my Grandpa so much I was glad to do it.
One night there was an explosion in one of the shop buildings at the mine where my Grandpa worked. A large bottle of liquid oxygen had been mishandled and literally blew up the large metal shop building that it was located in. People died. I remember watching the live news coverage with my Mom. Nobody knew if my Grandpa was in that building or not. We eventually learned he was safe and being treated at the hospital for smoke inhalation. He had been out on a jobsite and when the explosion occurred he was among the first to rush into the chaos to rescue whoever might be alive at the scene of the explosion. He was always selfless in that way; he would risk life and limb without so much as a second thought for the benefit of others. He never failed to spring into action when it was needed.
I remember one time he, my Grandma, and I were driving down Interstate 5 in the wee hours of the morning to visit the Portland swap meet. We were always going to swap meets; my Grandpa was a hound for antique trucks, tools, and associated memorabilia. He taught me how to barter and pay what was fair at those swap meets. Anyway, as we're driving down the freeway, a car in front of us swerves, hits the median barrier on the driver side of the car, and flips over skidding down the freeway on it's roof. Traffic came to a screeching halt. The driver was unconscious and trapped in the vehicle. Gasoline was pouring out of the ruptured fuel tank and pooling around the car. Once again, my Grandpa sprang into action. I was terrified that the car would explode, taking him with it, and begged him not to go. He calmly yet assertively explained that a person was trapped, needed help, and if the car catches fire then it catches fire but he wasn't going to leave that person in there. Several others stopped to help. My Grandpa got out a long steel pole that he had in the bed of his truck and promptly went to work prying the smashed door of the car open. Between him on the ground and another man standing on top of the undercarriage working against that pole, they managed to get the door open and drag the person inside to safety away from the crash site. I was in awe of what I had just witnessed my Grandpa do. I learned that in moments of crisis, you have to keep your cool and do what needs doing to help people out in said crisis. That lesson has stuck with me throughout my whole life.
I could go on and on about my Grandpa; all that I experienced with him, all that I learned from him, how much I love and cherish him. Maybe I'll write more some day. For now, I wanted to pay this tribute to my amazing, incredible, wonderful grandfather who means the entire world and more to me, and who's passing leaves a hole in my life and deep within me that will never, ever be filled... yet I have our memories together. So.many.memories. All of them good. All of them cherished. I love you, Grandpa Jim.