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Obituaries » Roger G Hanke

Roger G Hanke

February 26, 1929 - December 22, 2017

U.S. Veteran

Burial Date: January 5, 2018

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Roger Gordon Hanke died Friday, December 22, 2017, having spent his last evening surrounded by his family at the adult family home where he had been receiving care. He was born February 26, 1929 in Spokane WA to Fred and Florence Hanke, the second of their 2 sons. The family lived in 2 or 3 rented homes before they were able to have their own built on the South Hill by a man who became their next-door neighbor and good friend, Henry Bise. It was a classic clinker brick home that looks as good as new today. Only a half block away is one of the beautiful Spokane parks where Roger spent much of his childhood playing with friends. The Bises had no children so Roger was welcomed rather like a son. He often wanted to watch Henry and learn construction and woodworking skills. The skills later served him well in his woodworking avocation.

Roger attended Wilson grade school and graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1946. He was a Boy Scout and then in a fraternity in high school with some boys from the same troop. There were many teenage shenanigans. Roger told about a time when he and a friend were driving the Hanke family car one cold winter night and slid sharply into a curb. For the rest of the evening his parent’s car would not turn left!, only go straight ahead or turn right.

His favorite teenage hours were spent at Felts Field working as a hangar boy at Wallace Air Service to earn flying lessons. Before graduating from high school, he became a licensed pilot and mainly flew a Waco UPF7, an open cockpit biplane. He loved flying so much that each day after school he would ride the bus across town to the Field to hang out with his idols, the pilots, to learn as much as he could about planes and flying them.

His summer occupations as a teenager included picking fruit in the orchards with other boys, filling a need caused by so many men being away in the service. In those days, the crop dusters required someone to stand on the ground and mark where the plane had just laid some chemical. Roger stood there holding the marker, inhaling the chemical being sprayed, no mask or anything.

Following high school he was in and out of colleges in Eastern Washington, spent some time working at the garage of the Old National Bank , the bank where his father became treasurer, and then, threatened with the draft, joined the Air Force, serving  during the Korean War from 1950-54. He was stationed in several places, including Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Iceland. He rose quickly to Staff Sergeant, was honorably discharged in CA, and then finished his last 2 years of college San Jose State University (College) where he obtained his BA in business administration in 1956. There he met his wife of the future, Mary Newman, whom he married in spring of 1956.

Roger made his career as a salesman. His first job was with Moore Business Forms. He was assigned a new territory in the CA central coast. They lived in San Luis Obispo where their first three children were born: Kurt, Katharine, and Karl. With the financial demand of an ever increasing family, he looked for a better situation and found it in International Paper in industrial sales. In 1960 the company sent Roger and his family north to the Seattle area where they have remained to this day. While living in Bellevue their other 2 children were born: Kyle and Kristin.

Initially, Roger’s success as a salesman didn’t come easily to him, yet through his own determined efforts he overcame certain anxieties, seeking out support and building confidence through Norman Vincent Peale writings, the Bible and his own sheer will. In the mid 1960’s he had gone to work for Georgia Pacific, again selling corrugated shipping containers (cardboard boxes to everyone else.) After about 11 years with GP, he was employed by Pacific Container, a sheet plant in Tacoma. Initially, he had the whole state as his territory, but with time it was narrowed to Western WA. He excelled as an industrial salesman – giving good care to his ever-growing number of customers, becoming one of the top box salesmen in the NW. His outstanding success allowed Mary to be at home to raise their 5 children. He remained with Pacific Container until retirement, at least 30 years.

While living in Bellevue the family all developed friendships that last to this day. Later, they moved to their home of 44 years in Redmond – “just a drive and a 6 iron from the Bellevue Municipal Golf Course.” There, too, are many good friends. Roger and Mary sold the big house (6 bedrooms, 3 baths) in 2014 and moved to a condo half that size, with no stairs for Roger to have to negotiate.

Golf was Roger’s passion for all his adult life. He started playing in his early twenties and became a devoted student of the game. He played at least once a week at Mt Si Golf Course from late 1960 well into this century. If he wasn’t playing, then he was hitting a bucket of balls, or chipping in the back yard, or putting in the living room, or reading golf magazines, or watching it on TV, or updating his notes about his stroke. He also enjoyed repairing his own golf clubs and took extra special care of his trusty H&B (Hillerich & Bradsby) hickory shafted putter. He accumulated many old golf clubs, especially putters. He was a member of the Mt Si Men’s Club, serving once as its secretary. He maintained a 7 handicap for many years, winning more than one club event, plus several holes-in-one. The best of the latter were in a hole-in-one driving tournament in which he did it twice! One of his favorite rounds was in a tournament with his 3 sons and son-in-law. They took first prize, perhaps because they were a 5-some or maybe because one of the sons is a pro!

Next to golf, Roger enjoyed construction and woodworking, finishing the lower level in one home and the upstairs in the next. He added cupboards wherever needed, built the fence around the back yard digging the post-holes manually, and outfitted his garage workshop in a manner that would please any do-it-yourselfer. He became a self-taught finish carpenter creating beautiful things out of wood.

Sailing on Puget Sound with Mary’s cousins one Fourth of July led to a love of being on the water for both Roger and Mary. They purchased their 22’ Tanzer late in 1977 and kept in moored in Commencement Bay by Tacoma, sailing it most every week for the 7 years they owned it. Then they bought a 28’ Cape Dory, the Strait Arrow, and spent 12 wonderful years exploring the many bays and inlets of Puget Sound. They kept a log of every sail and Roger found opportunity to use his woodworking skills in adding beautiful teak throughout.

Roger retired (sort of) in June 1993, although he continued to serve a number of his customers. In October of that year Roger was afflicted with an autoimmune response to a stomach virus and became somewhat disabled. In time he was able to return to health, and most importantly, to playing golf. However, the nerve damage began the process of a very long, very slow loss of physical and mental ability. But never was there a more non-complaining, good sport than Roger. He never grumbled about his growing limitations and always kept trying hard to be as active as possible.

All throughout his life, there was humor! He is perhaps best known for his quick wit and ability to make light of almost any situation, helping those around him to do the same. His humor was amazingly present even through his physical suffering, showing immense courage and positivity, no matter his circumstance. If you ask him where his earthquake kit is he’ll reply, “It’s in the liquor cabinet”. The stories of his humor abound.

In recent years he has needed more and more assistance, always provided by his wife and family until trained caregivers were needed. Even then, he charmed all those who cared for him. The family is grateful to the staff of Whisper Meadows Senior Care and the caregivers of Evergreen Hospice for their loving care of him in his last weeks. He no longer has to make the best of a difficult situation because the hard part has ended and he has passed from this life into a better and eternal one. He had lived a full, long life.

He is survived by his spouse of 61 years Mary (Newman) Hanke, their 5 adult children: Kurt (Lisa), Katie Stringer (Kirk), Karl (Gerri Lynn), Kyle and Kristin, as well as by his 3 grandchildren: Hannah, Emily and David, as well as a number of nieces and nephews. His parents and his brother John preceded him in death some time ago. His wife and children all were with him the evening before he passed.

All are welcome at the Memorial Service for Roger to be held at Newport Presbyterian Church, Bellevue, 2:00pm, Friday, January 5, followed by a reception. If any wish to make a donation in memory of Roger, the family suggests Evergreen Hospice, Newport Presbyterian Church, or the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.