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Dr. Walter K. Hanak

Feb 5, 2016

Dr. Walter K. Hanak, 86, passed away on Jan. 28, 2016 at Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg.

He was born April 4, 1929 in Trenton, New Jersey to Karel and Mary Fejko Hanak.

Walter grew up in Trenton and graduated from Trenton Catholic Boys’ High School in 1947. After high school, he attended Rutgers University until he enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in 1948. After completing Officer Candidates School, he was commissioned and served as a navigator for the Douglas B-26 Invader during the Korean Conflict. Awards for his honorable service included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal for Korea and many others. He continued to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves in various capacities, including as an Intelligence Officer and Armament Systems Officer and Air Force Historian until he retired with the rank of Colonel in 1989.

After serving on active duty in Korea, Walter attended the University of Texas, Austin earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. He earned his Master’s Degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy from Indiana University, Bloomington. Upon completing his Doctorate, Walter became an assistant professor of history at The University of Virginia, Charlottesville. In 1970, he joined the faculty of Shepherd University as a Professor of History, retiring in 2004 after 34 years of teaching. Following his official retirement, Walter continued pursuing his passion of history by researching, writing, presenting and publishing on many history topics including The Siege and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 that he co-authored with his long-time colleague, Marios Philippides.

Walter married Dorothy Abigail Donnelly of Kansas City, Missouri in 1959 in Austin, Texas. They were happily married for 39 years until her death in 1999. Walter was a member of The Harpers Ferry Cooking Club and served as a faculty advisor to many organizations at Shepherd University over the years. Walter attended the Patronage of Our Mother of God Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church, Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church and St. Agnes Catholic Church. He enjoyed traveling, reading, gardening and cooking. He was particularly proud of his children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments.

Walter was preceded in death by his parents Karel and Mary Hanak, his wife Dorothy, his sisters Mildred Currie and Elaine Hutman, and his daughter Catherine Miller.

Walter is survived by his daughters, Theresa (Bennie) Petrey of Little Rock, Arkansas, Cynthia (Bryson) Hunter of Roanoke, Virginia, his son Major David (Nela) Hanak, USAF (retired), of Viera, Florida; grandchildren James (Kelley) Coulter of Shinnston, West Virginia, Dr. Nicole (Evan) Carignan of Fayetteville, Georgia, Jason Petrey of Little Rock, Arkansas, PFC Zachary Allen Petrey USMC, Abigail and Lillian Hunter, and Marynella and Danielle Hanak; great-grandchildren Avery and Landon Carignan; nieces Mimi Lancsak, Diane Currie, Kathleen Law, Kimberly Beason, Karen Blake and Kaleigh Donnelly; and nephews Richard Currie and Alan Donnelly. He also leaves behind his loving dog, Constantine.

A visitation will be held at Eackles-Spencer & Norton Funeral Home, 256 Halltown Road, Harpers Ferry, WV, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb. 11. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Agnes Catholic Chapel, Shepherdstown, WV on Friday, Feb. 12, at 11a.m. with The Very Reverend Conan Timoney as the Celebrant. Interment will follow at St. Peters Cemetery, Harpers Ferry.

The family would like to thank Dr. Patricia Savadel, Dr. Jeffrey Lessar, and the physicians, nurses and staff of Berkeley Medical Center’s ICU and Oncology units for their compassionate care of Walter.

Condolences may be expressed at www.eackles-spencerfuneralhome.com.