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Obituary: John Hanke

As received from the O’Neill-Dennis Funeral Home:

John Hanke, 90, a lifetime resident of the Copper Country, loving husband, father and grandfather, passed away after a long illness surrounded by his wife Lu (Lorraine) and family by his bedside at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, Community Living Center in Iron Mountain on Monday August 22, 2002.

John was born June 18, 1932 in Menominee, MI to Adolph and Cecilia Ziebarth. He graduated from Hancock High School in 1950 and was in the U.S. Army during the Korean War until honorably-discharged in 1955. He married Lu Rocchi on June 23, 1956 in Hancock and they had a long, happy life together for 66 years.

John and Lu moved to Chicago for a couple years where John worked and attended Greer Technical Institute in Chicago IL. They moved back to the Copper Country that they loved and he became a long and trusted master mechanic at Stevenson and Lindros Chevrolet for many years. He continued his education taking courses at Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan Universities to earn his teaching certificate. He eventually left the auto repair business to teach auto mechanics for the CCISD to area high school students for almost 20 years before retiring in 1992. He loved teaching and was always gratified that so many of his students were able to maintain their own vehicles or make a career out of working in the automotive industry in the area. John was known throughout the county to diagnose those automotive and boat engine problems with the uncanny ability to figure out what others could not.

John discovered boating as a young adult, building one by himself along the way, and made this into a lifelong love. He enjoyed many trips to Isle Royale with his family and passed along his love for boating and the island to his children. John was also a an avid Michigan Tech hockey fan and instilled this love of hockey into all his children and coached both sons in local junior hockey. Later in life, he and Lu enjoyed escaping Copper Country winters for many RV trips to Florida and other points South and were able to visit all 50 states, making many friends with people they met along the way.

John is surved by his wife, Lu, children David (Pam) Hanke, Sharon (Karl) Niemi and Steve (Lisa) Hanke; 7 grandchildren, Jeremy (Chessie) Sergey, Sarah (Nick) Mancini, Kristin Niemi, Dylan (Bronwyn) Hanke, Wade Hanke, Logan Hanke and Alyssa Hanke; great grandchildren Raya & Brooks Hanke and Avery Sergey; brother-in-law Charles (Sharon) Rocchi, nephew Mark (Joy) Dennis, nieces Susan (James) Murray and Mary (Dave) Grams; foster parents’ children Pat (Wallace deceased) Wiitanen and Pam (Mike) Matson; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his sister, Marie Dennis, brother-in-law, Thomas Dennis, sister-in-law Cathy Rocchi and foster parents John & Evy Haaka.

Funeral services will be held at Lakeside Cemetery in Hancock on Friday August 26 at 2:00 pm with Pastor Brahm Semmler Smith officiating.

The family would like to thank the top-notch people and facility of the Iron Mountain Veteran’s Administration Community Living Center for caring so well for John during his last days. Memorials in lieu of flowers or other gifts may be directed to Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) or to Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock. To leave online condolences, please go to oneill-dennisfh.com.

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