Mary Alice Hannon
Mary Alice Campbell Hannon, 98, a long-time high school English teacher and former University of Georgia sorority housemother, passed away on Jan. 17 following a brief illness.
Mary Alice was born in Hoopeston, Ill., but grew up in West Lafayette, Ind., where she met her late husband John (Jack) Marion Hannon, who was a classmate of hers at Purdue University. The couple’s fondest college memories were romantic Friday night dates at the Purdue Memorial Union, where they danced the night away to the big bands of the Forties.
Mary Alice graduated from college in 1942, and she enjoyed a brief tenure as a teaching assistant at Purdue. Jack served his country during World War II as a U.S. Navy communications officer aboard an LST in the Pacific theater, and Mary Alice made cross-country train trips to California to be with her husband while he was on leave.
Following World War II, the couple spent time in St. Louis, Mo., where Jack continued his education at Washington University, and they lived in several different cities around the country before settling in Whiting, Ind., near Chicago, where Mary Alice was a member of Tri Kappa sorority and a substitute teacher in the Hammond (Ind.) Public School System. She later became a full-time English teacher and student council sponsor at Hammond High School.
In 1980, she retired from teaching but continued her life-long involvement with young people by moving to Athens, Ga., to begin a 17-year career as a UGA housemother at the Delta Gamma and Kappa Alpha Theta sororities.
An avid sports fan, Mary Alice’s love for Purdue was evident right up until the night before her passing, when she watched a Boilermaker basketball victory on a hospital television set with her oldest son Kent Hannon and two of her grandsons, Shane Hannon and Austin Hannon, at her side. Her adopted alma mater, UGA, was also dear to her heart, as evidenced by the tears of joy she shed on New Year’s night when the Georgia Bulldogs won the Rose Bowl.
On that occasion — and on countless birthday, holiday, anniversary, and sporting events of one kind or another over the years — Mary Alice was surrounded by those who meant the most to her . . . her family. On any given day in Athens or nearby Atlanta, or on trips to visit relatives in the Washington, D.C. area, she reveled in the company of three generations of family members.
Son Kent and his wife Sharron are recent UGA retirees and long-time Athens residents. Younger son Kyle Hannon and his wife Cindy — a former high school student of Mary Alice’s — live in Atlanta, as does granddaughter Kelly. Her brother Austin, a UGA graduate student who works for the Office of Sports Communications, has been living with his grandmother in her home in Athens. Mary Alice’s daughter, Nancy Hannon Lee, lives in suburban D.C., which is also home to Nancy’s son Ryan Lee and his wife Christy and their three children, Sophia, Nicholas, and Thomas; and to Nancy’s daughter Megan Lee Pryor and her husband Jeff and their two children, Emma and Caitlyn.
Never one to let her advancing age dictate, or restrict, her activities, Mary Alice bought a new dress and flew to Kansas City last year to attend the wedding of grandson Scott Lee and his bride Abbey. Here in Athens, she enjoyed Atlanta Symphony concerts at UGA’s Performing Arts Center, where her granddaughter, Blake Hannon Schneider, serves as assistant director. Mary Alice attended ASO’s recent New Year’s Eve concert at PAC. And she rarely missed a musical theater show produced by Oconee Youth Playhouse, where Shane and his wife Terra serve as co-directors, and two of her eight great grandchildren, Evan and Chase Hannon, are performers. Mary Alice was also close to their older brother Jack, who is named after her husband.
A member of the First Presbyterian Church of Athens, Mary Alice was delighted to attend the recent Christmas Eve service, and she took particular pleasure in the Thursday morning bible study classes taught by Dr. John Kipp. She enjoyed playing bridge with friends, and she did volunteer work at the University Health Center. Just two weeks shy of what would have been her 99th birthday, she took pride in still living at home in Athens’ Five Points neighborhood.
As matriarch of her family, Mary Alice was both the inspiration and home base for annual Thanksgiving reunions that included the Give Thanks 8K race on Thanksgiving morning, a family dinner in the afternoon, and turkey sandwiches that night. She was someone who cherished her friends but her family even more, and she will remain in our hearts always.
A memorial service in her honor will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Athens (185 E Hancock Ave, Athens, GA 30601) at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Oconee Youth Playhouse, 1050 Jamestown Blvd., Watkinsville, GA 30677.