William Park “Bill” Hanson



STATE COLLEGE, PA.William Park “Bill” Hanson, 88, of State College, Pa., who summered in Northeast Harbor and Ellsworth for years, died Friday, May 12, 2017, at Mount Nittany Medical Center.

Born Dec. 7, 1928, in Newport, Maine, he was the son of the late William P. Hanson Sr. and Myrtle J. Littlefield Hanson. On March 21, 1953, he married Jeannine Desmarais in Bangor.

In addition to his beloved wife, Jeannine, of 64 years, Bill is survived by his sister, Kathryn E. Gillespie, and her husband, Edwin A., of Turners Falls, Mass., and a nephew, Drake Williams of Leyden, Mass.

Bill graduated from Bangor Military High School in 1946 and received his bachelor’s degree from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He was awarded scholarships and graduated in 1951 after a fifth year of study. Additional education included work with Gyorgy Kepes at MIT and courses at Harvard and the University of Maine. Bill taught education and secondary art in Maine until 1958 when he became a professor of art at the Pennsylvania State University, retiring there after 36 years. While at Penn State, Bill created and nurtured the course for creative photography, against much opposition. Supporting conservation, Bill worked to save Turtle Island in Maine by writing numerous letters protesting its destruction by logging; succeeding in 1965, the island was purchased by the Nature Conservancy.

Bill was an exhibiting painter in oil and water-based media since 1947, during which time his paintings were shown at the New Jersey Painters’ and Sculptors’ Society; Alan Gallery, NYC; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Mass.; Margaret Brown Gallery, Boston; Boston Arts Festival; Maine Coast Artists, Rockport; and Walker Art Museum, Bowdoin College, Brunswick. Over 50 of his paintings were shown at the Museum of Art, now Palmer Museum, at Penn State University in a one-man show. From 1987 through 1991, Bill and Jeannine operated the seasonal Hanson Gallery in Northeast Harbor. He was active in numerous other media, including sculpture, printmaking (etching, lithography, serigraphy) and photography as well as being a typographer and designer. Bill’s work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC; The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.; and at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair by invitation as one of the few creative photographers. His publications were featured in S.I. Hayakawa’s noted Journal of General Semantics as well as Minor White’s journal of fine art photography, Aperture. In addition, complete issues of Everyday Art were devoted to his work as an educator, designer, photographer and poet. Bill’s poems were set to music for voice, piano and violin by James Case, a former PSU faculty composer, and for piano and chorus by Bruce Trinkley for Mountain Laurels, a choral symphony celebrating the centennial of State College in 1996. He was a founding member of the Boston Printmakers and the National Society for Photographic Education.

Bill was loved and admired by his students as well as by collectors. Throughout his life, he helped and advised many students and people, leaving a lasting impact on many.

Burial will be private in Pine Grove Cemetery in Bangor at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to Smile Train, 41 Madison Ave., 28th Floor, New York, NY 10010 and Save the Children, 501 Kings Highway East, Suite 400, Fairfield, CT 06825, in memory of William “Bill” Hanson, who thought fondly of both organizations.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.


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