Remembering Bill Hanna

Sunday, January 23, 2011; C05

Remembering Bill Hanna

The Jan. 19 editorial page has a fitting tribute to R. Sargent Shriver, a fine national figure. But I'd like to note a locally important personage of great vision and grit who also died last week.

William E. Hanna Jr. served on the Montgomery County Council in the 1980s and '90s, and he was likely the greatest council member of the time. He was an outspoken leader with a regional vision. He led the effort to establish the Shady Grove Life Sciences Center, and he fought long and hard for affordable housing in the county. He was instrumental in the tough battle for the Silver Spring-Bethesda Transitway, the Purple Line's precursor, as well as the effort to revitalize downtown Silver Spring. He fought hard for the Intercounty Connector, and he demanded and budgeted for public art to grace new public buildings and parks.

One night, when Bill and I were going through a particularly difficult time regarding crafting and then defending a new affordable housing initiative, and we were getting hit from all sides, I said to him, "Boy, this has got to be really tough on you."

Bill responded, "This is really nothing."

I asked, "What do you mean?"

Bill calmly replied, "Gus, I have seven daughters." I learned over time how close he was to his seven daughters.

Bill sometimes rubbed people the wrong way with his blunt manner and old-school, impolitic language, but he had the proverbial heart of gold. He was a rarity in elected life, then and now - a non-showboater with real vision who didn't wish to be emperor of the universe.

Gus Bauman, Silver Spring

The writer served as chairman of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission from 1989 to 1993.

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