Feb 19

Art Hanna Biographical Sketch

The funeral for my Dad, Art Hanna, was held Saturday and the burial service was Tuesday. Our family gathered from the four corners of the earth to attend. Here is the biographical sketch which was read at the funeral service.

Art Hanna was born in a cabin on the shore of Silver Lake, Ohio, April 16, 1920. He was the youngest of 4 siblings. His mother died a few days after his birth and his father died before he was two. Separated from his brother and sisters and raised by his maternal aunt and uncle, he knew himself as Art Macdonald and thought his true siblings were cousins living in a city 30 miles away.

After graduating from high school in 1938, he attended Wright Aviation School in Glendale, California, then worked for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica. In 1941 he married Barbara Glassett and had two children, Anne and Art Jr. After the outbreak of World War II he joined the Army Air Corps and became a navigator on B-17’s. Because he was a trainer he never saw action in the war.

When the war concluded, he mustered out of the Air Force. Divorce in 1948 left him devastated, so he moved back to Ohio. While caring for the farm of an elderly woman, he lived in the barn without electricity or running water. In his own testimony he said: “After about a year I missed my kids so much, I grew so despondent that I actually considered suicide. This was because I was not a Christian. As a young person growing up in Ohio I had always gone to Sunday School, but do not remember ever hearing the gospel.” Lonely and depressed, he bought a transistor radio to keep him company. When he tuned in by chance to radio preacher Donald Grey Barnhouse, he understood the gospel for the first time and trusted Christ; it changed his life.

In order to be closer to his children, he moved to North Highlands, California in 1954 and began attending North Highlands Bible Church. He taught 5th grade boys Sunday School and eventually became the youth director. His love for the kids led him to buy an old bus, which he used to pick up children for Sunday School and to take the young people to regional youth meetings. In 1959 a young school teacher, Marian Wardell, began to help him with the church youth group. They began to date by playing tennis together and were married in 1961. They had two boys, Matthew and Nathan.

Before his marriage, he had bought 50 acres of land in Placerville in hopes of someday developing it into a Christian camp ground. He built a small cabin on it, where the new family lived for several years. One Sunday, after attending church in North Highlands, they returned to find that the cabin had burned to the ground with all of their belongings. After living in several temporary homes in North Highlands and Placerville, his job with a burglar and fire alarm company led him to move the family to the Stockton area in 1968, where they lived till 1986. For many years he worked as a bank courier and drove a daily route that covered a large portion of Northern California.

Art loved the Lord Jesus who saved him and actively served in several Stockton churches. He continued to work with Sunday School, children’s church, and youth ministries, and drove regular Sunday morning bus routes picking up children for Sunday School. Every other Saturday he would load up the family van with young people for a “hike” somewhere. The kids all loved him. Whenever a church repair or construction project was needed, he was there in the thick of it. It was during this time also that he became involved in a weekly Bible teaching ministry at the LaSallete Nursing Home in Stockton. He taught there every Sunday afternoon for nearly 25 years. He never lost his love of Christian radio and listened regularly to well-known radio preachers such as J. Vernon McGee, M. R. DeHaan, John MacArthur, and many others. Theses men exercised a powerful and formative influence on his life and service for the Lord.

He retired in 1986, and he and Marian moved back to the Placerville area. Through years of effort, the help of good friends, and God’s intervention, they were able to move onto the property that he had bought so many years earlier. His dream of a Christian camp never materialized, but through personal ministry he touched the lives of hundreds of people. he remained active by taking on a Bible teaching ministry at Gold Country Health Center and he taught there every week for more than 10 years. By then he was older than most of the people to whom he was preaching.

he was an avid model railroader and train photographer his whole life. He traveled all over California and the western United States to gather and trade information with other railroad buffs and to photograph and ride historic trains. He bought a decommissioned Southern Pacific Railway caboose in 1962 and had it moved onto his property where it still stands. He eventually converted the interior into an elaborate model railroad layout. He joined the Eldorado Western Railway Foundation in his senior years and was an active member as long as he was able to contribute.

During the last ten years of his life, old age and declining health kept him at home more and more. His eyesight and memory began to fail, but he kept his gentle demeanor and love for the Lord to the end. We will always remember him as a husband and father who was firm in his faith in Christ, considerate and sympathetic to the needs of others, faithful in his life and testimony, and “always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

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