Cover photo for William Hanlon's Obituary
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William Hanlon

December 14, 1940 — June 5, 2024

East Greenbush – William T. Hanlon, 83, passed away on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024, at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, NY.  Born on December 14th, 1940, to the late Michael and Grace (Murphy) Hanlon, Bill was a devoted son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, and devout Catholic.  Serendipity came calling when Bill (a product of Queens, NY) was assigned to paint a group of cottages at the Holy Rosary Mission of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, with a girl from Paducah, Kentucky.  Margaret (Walker) Hanlon became his wife soon after, and they celebrated a 53-year-long journey of love, wit, joy and laughter.  She was his best friend.  They were inseparable, and their love for each other grew stronger with each passing year.


In his youth, Bill was an accomplished track athlete at Brooklyn Prep High School, and a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He admired his parents.  He described his father, Michael, as his hero.  His children, not surprisingly, came to feel the same about him.  He wrote once that his mother, Grace, ‘radiated happiness and joy.’  So too did his wife, Margaret.  His siblings and their spouses: Jack (Mary), Donald (Barbara), Margaret, and Ellie (Daniel), adored him.  The feeling was mutual.


Bill graduated from Fordham University with a Master’s Degree in English.  He became a Jesuit Scholastic, making lifelong friendships with Dan Gatti, Jim Kelly, and Jim Loughran, who provided him decades of spiritual guidance, camaraderie, and revelry.  Bill taught English and Latin at Fordham Prep and the Red Cloud Indian School.  He ultimately built his career working as a speech writer for Governor Mario Cuomo alongside his thereafter lifelong friends, Peter Quinn and Tom Lewis.


As life pushed forward, Bill became a father of four.  His tremendous work ethic set an inspirational example for his children, and provided the means for them to prosper in their own lives.  Though he suffered the loss of his son, Michael, he continued to raise his family with tremendous love and grace, in the face of terrific grief.  He may not have known it, but it made all the difference.  His transition from ‘Dad’ to ‘Grandpa’ lifted him to the moon.  Every Sunday for two decades, Bill held court at the head of his dinner table, as his children (Dan, Teresa, and Tim) and their spouses (Paula, Paul, and Liz) grew the family, one-by-one, to a raucous fifteen.  Owen, Julia, Luke, Grace, Emma, Lyla, and Michael.  His grandchildren.  Nothing in this world filled him with more pride.  He was the first to laugh at their jokes, and the biggest admirer of their varied talents.  


Bill’s wit was sharp as a blade.  He was generous and altruistic.  He enjoyed his family above all, and had a passion for reading, watching British TV, bird watching, researching his family heritage, and traveling to distant lands such as Ireland, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Scotland.   His favorite tradition was gathering at his sister’s and brother-in-law’s home on Pleasant Lake, NH for their yearly 4th of July family reunion celebrations.  There, he found in abundance the three things he cared about most: love, wit, and laughter.  Like all Hanlons, he was stubborn, and cultivated a comical ‘blacklist’ of companies that had somehow wronged him, never to be shopped at again.  His intellect should have made him unapproachable.  But his unassuming manner, humbleness, gentleness, and kindness pierced through it all.  He was, and will remain, the rock of the Hanlon family.


Bill’s ability to sculpt with words was unmatched.  An excerpt, below, from his final piece of autobiographical literature, demonstrates his faith, his love for his family and friends, and his eternal optimism.  In his own words:


“Love and wit and laughter.  I don’t think they ever disappear, come to an end with a person’s last breath.  I believe they are somehow transformed, perhaps like water that evaporates, condenses and falls again as life-giving rain.  Call me gullible, but I look forward to seeing again all those in whose faces I’ve glimpsed the face of God: my parents; my brother Jack, named for his grandfather; my son Michael, named for my father; all the relatives, friends, teachers and mentors who have been part of my life.  I look forward to getting to know those two strangers who gave my father life . . . to hearing again the laughter of Aunt Kate and of Jim Loughran . . . to seeing Tony and Andrew relieved of their pain and happy . . . to laughing again with John Jude Francis Cassidy.  I look forward to the “home wanted” that’s been promised us, the place where the pilgrimage ends, where no one’s an orphan, where every tear shall be wiped away.”  

~ William T. Hanlon, circa 2012.


Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Bill’s family on Wednesday, June 12, at the Castleton Funeral Home, 59 Seaman Ave, Castleton, NY 12033, from 4:00-6:00PM.  A Funeral Mass will take place on Thursday, June 13, at 10:00AM at Sacred Heart Church, 3 Catholic Way, Castleton, NY 12033, with the Rite of Committal to follow at the New Sacred Heart Cemetery, South Old Post Rd, Castleton, NY 12033.


In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family kindly requests donations be offered to the Red Cloud Indian School of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, or Sacred Heart Church of Castleton, NY.


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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

4:00 - 6:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Mass

Thursday, June 13, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

11:30am - 12:00 pm (Eastern time)

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New Sacred Heart Cemetery

South Old Post Road
NY 12033

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