William Sandoe Hanna

William Sandoe Hanna

Sandoe Hanna passed away on March 5th, 2010, at Gilroy Healthcare on Murray St., at the age of 98. Born in Gilroy, the son of Fannie Bruener Sandoe and Walter Jacob Hanna, Sandoe attended schools in Gilroy and briefly attended Stanford. The Great Depression interupted his schooling and he came home to work on his parents’ farm south of Gilroy. Sandoe’s wife, Mildred, preceeded him in death on January 17th, 2010. Two of his children have also passed away, Sandra (2005) and Bill (11-2009). He is survived by two sons, Roy of Gilroy and Tom of Juneau, AK (married to Kathy).

He is also survived by grandchilden: Bruce of Gilroy, Wendy of Gilroy (married to Jeff Wilson), Laurie of Gilroy (married to Michael Gallegas), Zachary of Juneau, AK (married to Wynette) and Suzanne of Corona, CA (married to Mohammed Ali). Great-grandchildren are Will and Amy (Bruce), Brennan (Wendy and Jeff), Owen and Ella (Laurie and Michael), Siena, Isabella and Jackson (Zachary and Wynette); Great-great grandchild Nicole (Will).

Sandoe first met Mildred while working in the fields east of Gilroy. Later on he went to a dance at the High School; she was there and when he asked her to dance that was it. Last year (2009) they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Together they built up a welding and fabrication business at the corner of Monterey Hwy. and Day Rd., starting in 194l. Sandoe fixed and and built just about everything while Mildred handled the office. They also developed and operated a small ranch on which they grew prunes, walnuts and other orchard crops. Together they helped in organizing the Gilroy Cooperative Prune Dryers.

Sandoe was a member of the California National Guard during World War II, and prior to that was in the Boy Scouts of America. He was an excellent hunter and an outstanding halfback for Gilroy High School, and played briefly for Stanford University. He became an expert welder, machinist, and a registered professional mechanical engineer. He along with his crew (up to 24 at one time) would fix the smallest items to building farm equipment, complex machinery, bulk-handling systems and large tanks. He also built the first recreational vehicle in this area from the frame of a 1946 Ford that could sleep 10-12 people. Called the “jungle wagon” by the kids, it went through numerous remodelings and was used for years to take the family and groups of boys and girls on outings to the state parks.

He and Mildred raised their children by setting a good example of family values and community service. After the children were grown, they continued to give of themselves. Examples: Sandoe used his crane to lift the dome at the Catholic Church on First Street into place, and set the main ceiling joists for the Masonic Building in Gilroy and the San Martin Lion’s Building. These and many other similar projects were done without charge. Sandoe was a member of the Masons since 1946 (64 years). He was Worshipful Master of Keith Lodge in 1976 and was presented the Hiram Award (highest possible). He also was a past President of the Lions Club.

Sandoe was an active outdoors person. In their 60’s, he and Mildred climbed Mt. Whitney and Mt. Shasta, rode to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camped in Alaska. In their 80’s, they helicoptered and boated to remote Alaskan cabins. Several years ago, they fulfilled a life-long dream of visiting Hawaii. Sandoe was a life member of the Gilroy Historical Society and was instrumental in saving a number of buildings (Old City Hall) around Gilroy.

Anywhere there was need for helpers in the community, Sandoe and Mildred could be counted on to be there (washing dishes at the Garlic Festival, handing out water to runners, etc.) In 1994 Sandoe and Mildred were selected to the Gilroy Hall of Fame for being outstanding role models, unselfish volunteers and people who were truly community oriented.

Memorial Service for both Sandoe and Mildred Hanna will be at a later date, and a future announcement will follow.

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