By: Cozette Vergari
Born in 1913, a native Angelino, William H. Hannon dedicated his life to giving back to his community. His father, a rancher, and his mother, a homemaker, instilled in him a love of the history of the region. Upon graduation from Loyola High School in 1933, William had his heart set on attending Loyola University of Los Angeles, which had just opened their campus in 1930 in a remote rural area of the City of Los Angeles, later, in 1973, to become known as Loyola Marymount University.
However, the money for such a college education was not something William’s parents could afford. That did not dissuade him. He, with the support of his mother, proposed an arrangement to the President of Loyola University. William Hannon promised, if he were accepted by the university for his undergraduate studies, upon graduation and finding employment, he would pay his debt back in full. That promise, which began with a handshake, was the beginning of a lifelong dedication to, and support of, his alma mater.
Upon graduation from Loyola University, Hannon served as an intelligence officer in the Army. Shortly thereafter, in 1937, he was offered a job by Fritz B. Burns on the sales team of Marlow-Burns & Company. He had met Burns at the beach at Playa del Rey, while a student. That friendship and business relationship would last for more than 40 years. He quickly became the Sales Manager for the commercial and residential properties for the Westchester and Playa del Rey communities. They subdivided thousands of acres in Westchester, then built and sold homes to veterans returning from World War II. He served on the Board of Directors of the Fritz B. Burns Foundation, both as an officer and a director, from 1978 until 1974, including as President of the Board.
Hannon also became a major partner in the development of several other industrial parks, hotels and shopping centers in the Los Angeles region. William continued in the real estate business independently. He was known as an innovator, for his creative thinking, constantly dictating and/or notating his ideas. He successfully maintained an office in Playa del Rey. In 1983, William forged his own philanthropy, by founding the William H. Hannon Foundation. Over the years, the Hannon Foundation has supported many Catholic schools, Missions and hospitals, as well as numerous other public and private nonprofit organizations in Southern California.
As he had promised, William became a major benefactor of Loyola Marymount University and serving his alma mater as an Honorary Trustee and a Regent Emeritus. His contributions and generosity are memorialized in the campus Hannon Apartments named after his mother Eugenie B. Hannon, Hannon Field and the William H. Hannon Library. His legacy and spirit of giving is carried on by the William H. Foundation, established in 1983, which has supported other local universities and colleges, as well as high schools, elementary schools and preschools. The Foundation continues to generously support community projects and organizations within the Westchester community. William was also very proud to be named a Knight of St. Gregory and to receive the 1994 Cardinal’s Award from the leader of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
I am proud to say, I had the opportunity to meet William, joining him for lunch at the old Carl’s Jr. in Playa del Rey, to discuss a community project. He was truly a gentleman. His passing in 1999 left a memorable legacy, now carried on by his niece Kathleen Hannon Aikenhead, President of the William h. Hannon Foundation.