Bill Hanna

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For other people named William Hanna, see William Hanna (disambiguation).
Bill Hanna
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana
In office
November 27, 1978 – December 31, 1982
Preceded by Calhoun Allen (under commission form of government)
Succeeded by John Brennan Hussey (under mayor-council form of government)
Personal details
Born William Thomas Hanna, Jr.
(1930-09-26)September 26, 1930
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died December 17, 2016(2016-12-17) (aged 86)
Shreveport, Louisiana
Resting place Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marvelle Warren Hanna
Children 4
Alma mater C. E. Byrd High School
Louisiana State University
Occupation Former automobile dealer

William Thomas "Bill" Hanna, Jr. (September 26, 1930 – December 17, 2016), was a Ford Motor Company automobile dealer who served a single term from 1978 to 1982 as the Democratic mayor of Shreveport in Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana.

Background[edit]

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, to William Hanna, Sr., and the former Irma Belle Adams,[1] he came to Shreveport with his parents at the age of three months. He graduated in 1947 from C. E. Byrd High School in Shreveport and enrolled at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. There he became a lifelong Tigers partisan. He played on the LSU baseball team from 1949 to 1951. After graduation, he played shortstop on several minor league teams before he returned to Shreveport to joing his father in the automobile business.[2]

Hanna was a president of the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association, which in 1977 named him the "Automobile Dealer of the Year".[3] The company was well known for the popular sales slogan, "You Canna Ford a Hanna Ford," which was intended to attract moderate-income buyers.[3] The company no longer exists.

Public career[edit]

On his election as mayor, Hanna defeated in a runoff contest his fellow Democrat Don Hathaway, the last of Shreveport's municipal public works commissioners who in 1980 began a long stint as the sheriff of Caddo Parish. Also in the mayoral race was the defeated Republican, Billy Guin, the last of the Shreveport public utilities commissioners. Hanna was the first Shreveport mayor under the mayor-council home-rule city charter, which replaced the former commission city government. He was also the first mayor in decades not serving in public office at the time of his election. He recruited nationally and secured exceptional people to serve in municipal government. Many noted that Hanna did not seem really interested in "politics". Such an attitude made it appear that he did not like being mayor, and he did not run for a second term in 1982.

Former Mayor James C. Gardner served as a city council member in the Hanna administration and helped chart the new form of government. Other council members included Charles B. Peatross, a future judge of the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit; Gregory Tarver, later a Louisiana state senator; John Scotto, a civil engineer from southwest Shreveport; Hilry Huckaby, first vice-chairman of the council, and the Reverend Herman Farr (1918–2008), a leader of the Shreveport NAACP. Tarver, Huckaby, and Farr were the first African Americans to have served in Shreveport municipal government since Reconstruction.

In his memoirs Jim Gardner and Shreveport, Vol. II, Gardner described Hanna, accordingly:

His self-assurance as a businessman shaped his approach to running city government. He sought proven professionals as department heads, something for which he never received adequate credit. He could never bring himself to 'view with alarm and point with pride' as a political leader must do. And so he never received the credit that he was due. ...

In four years, he never initiated a political conversation in my presence. It was just not his thing, and it made his position not as pleasant for him as it could have been. But he always desired to do what he felt was best for Shreveport. And no taint of impropriety ever attached itself to him.[4]

Mayor Hanna promoted the decision to construct Interstate 49 through northwestern Louisiana. During his tenure, General Motors located a plant in Shreveport which later closed. Ground was broken for Expo Hall, and the stadium at the Louisiana Fair Grounds, location of the annual state fair, became the renovated Independence Stadium, at which numerous football teams, including Louisiana Tech University, occasionally played games.[3] Some two weeks after becoming mayor, Hanna presented to legendary actor John Wayne, then in the last year of his life, the second annual "Spirit of Independence" Award, as part of the ceremonies at the annual Independence Bowl in Independence Stadium.[5] He was succeeded as mayor by his fellow Democrat, the attorney John Brennan Hussey.

In 1994, twelve years after his stint as mayor, Hanna joined the Caddo Parish government as the director of building and grounds and later served as the director of operations and as assistant administrator. In June 1998, he was named Caddo Parish administrator, comparable to county judge in most other states. He was the administrator until his retirement in 2006. In this capacity, he helped to resolved the disputed boundary with neighboring Bossier Parish, which impacted revenues collected from boats docked in the Red River. He brought the three major governmental headquarters together to the downtown Government Plaza building, helped to establish the Northwest Louisiana Veterans Cemetery, built a Chimp Haven in Shreveport, and devised an emergency cell phone program for the handicapped and elderly.[3]

Personal life[edit]

When he ran for mayor, Hanna had a home on Cross Lake, a vacation place in New Mexico, and a private airplane at his disposal.

Hanna had one sibling, his brother, Kenneth George "Ken" Hanna (born 1939), who also worked in the automobile business.

Upon his death at the age of 86, Hanna was survived by his wife, Marvelle Warren Hanna, four daughters from a previous marriage, and two stepsons.[2][3] He was interred at Forest Park East Cemetery.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "William Thomas Hanna". search.ancestry.com. Retrieved January 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Scott Ferrell. "Former Shreveport Mayor Bill Hanna dies at 86". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved December 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "William Thomas Hanna, Jr.". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved December 20, 2016. 
  4. ^ James C. Gardner, Jim Gardner and Shreveport, Vol. II, (Shreveport: Ritz Publications, 2006), pp. 224–225
  5. ^ The Shreveport Times, December 14, 1978
  6. ^ "William T. Hanna, Jr.". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved December 19, 2016. 
Preceded by
Calhoun Allen
Mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana

William Thomas "Bill" Hanna, Jr.
1978–1982

Succeeded by
John Brennan Hussey