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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 01/18/2011

Longtime Montgomery County Council member Bill Hanna dies

By Emma Brown
Emma Brown

Former Rockville mayor and longtime Montgomery County Council member William E. Hanna Jr., who played a key role in turning the I-270 corridor into a center for biotechnology companies, died Jan. 15. He was 89.

Mr. Hanna's political career began in the late 1960s as a member of the Rockville city council. He went on to serve four terms as mayor, from 1974 to 1982, before he was elected to the county council.

He served on the council until 1998, including three times as president.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Hanna was instrumental in working with then-County Executive Charlie Gilchrist to create the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, a research and industrial park devoted to biomedical and health-care research.

"Bill pioneered the County's investment in life sciences which directly led to our preeminent position as one of the world's leading biotech centers," said County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who had served with Mr. Hanna on the county council, in a statement.

Mr. Hanna also was a champion of the arts and of affordable housing.

He sponsored legislation that required art installations in newly constructed public buildings and was a supporter of Montgomery's Moderately Priced Dwelling Unit Program, which requires developers of new housing to set aside units for low-income families.

William E. Hanna Jr. was born in Chicago and served in the Army during World War II. He graduated from Bradley University, received a master's degree in economics from George Washington University and then went on to a civil service career, first with NASA and later with the Social Security Administration.

He also served in the Air Force Reserve and Air Force Auxiliary.

According to the suburban Maryland Gazette newspapers, during Mr. Hanna's tenure as mayor of Rockville, the city acquired its flag, seal and official mascot (the Peregrine falcon).

He was predeceased by his grandson, William.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, Annette; seven daughters; 15 grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

A full obituary will follow.

By Emma Brown  | January 18, 2011; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  Emma Brown, Politics, Washington DC-area people  
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