John M. Hanna was a longtime educator, teaching high school students English, Latin (which he learned while once studying to be a priest) and Russian (language skills he honed while working for the CIA).
He was a family man, married 46 years, the father of five and grandfather of 13.
Hanna died of kidney failure June 11 at the Omaha home he shared with his wife, Sandie. He was 85.
John Hanna taught at the now-closed Cathedral High School in Omaha but retired in 1992 after 30 years at Council Bluffs' Thomas Jefferson High School. During his years at the Bluffs school, he started the foreign language lab and the Russian language program, his wife said. Two T.J. students in his Russian class went on to careers in the Foreign Service, she said. Another student who studied Latin went into science, eventually heading a department at Penn State University, she said.
Her husband didn't use computers, she said, preferring to hold newspapers and hard-bound books — no paperbacks. She estimated that they own 3,000 to 4,000 books.
Hanna loved women's basketball at Creighton University, attending games through last season, she said. He also was a fan of other Creighton sports and the Cornhuskers.
Hanna graduated from Omaha Creighton Prep, attended St. Paul (Minn.) Seminary and received bachelor's and master's degrees from Creighton.
He served in the Navy.
Besides his wife, Hanna is survived by children Mike Hanna of Omaha, Mary Christensen of Council Bluffs, Patrick Hanna of Chicago, Kate Bush of Monroe, La., and Meg Amundsen of Omaha; and 13 grandchildren.
A funeral Mass was held last Friday at St. John Catholic Church on the Creighton University campus.