Alumni Spotlight - Larry and Dick Hanson

Brothers making a difference in the community

By Dana Chrysler
Everett Community College Alumni Outreach Specialist

Two brothers turned to EvCC to create the foundation for their successful college educations and careers. Larry enjoyed a 45-year career at The Everett Herald, becoming president and publisher and Richard was a science teacher and coach who went on to be principal of Everett High School and assistant superintendent for instruction for the Everett School District. Both have served the community in many leadership roles, including as presidents of the Everett Rotary Club. Below, Larry and Richard give their unique perspective on EvCC and their individual careers.

Tell me about your family. Where did you grow up? Did you have brothers or sisters?

Larry: There were six children in our family, five boys and one girl. I am the youngest.
Richard: We grew up in the Silver Lake area of south Everett, at the end of Jordan Road.

Did your parents go to college and did they encourage you to attend college?

Larry: Our parents encouraged us to be active in school and perform well academically.
Richard: Our parents only finished the 8th grade, but they supported us to continue our education.

When and where did you graduate from high school?

Larry: I graduated from Everett High School in 1956.
Richard: I graduated from Everett High School in 1955.

How did you choose EvCC? Was there a selection process involved in your decision?

Larry: Being from a large family, it was necessary for us to pay for our college educations. EvCC gave me the opportunity to live at home and work full-time while carrying a full load of classes.
Richard: I was able to live at home, which kept the cost down, along with a more affordable tuition and, of course, my interest in playing sports.

Do you think your time at EvCC helped you pursue your current career? If so, how?

Larry: Yes, because I was working full-time at The Everett Herald newspaper. I was able to benefit immediately from what I was learning in my classes and from my role as editor of the EvCC yearbook. The college provided early leadership roles in publishing and management.
Richard: Yes, EvCC provided me with a solid educational base to pursue a career of my choice.

What did you do after you left (or graduated from) EvCC?

Larry: I transferred to the University of Washington (UW) and gained my degree in business management, with a major in marketing.
Richard: I attended the University of Washington and received a bachelor’s degree in education and later, Seattle University, for my master’s degree.

Did you ever envision your eventual career while in college?

Larry: Yes, my college education provided the skills and knowledge to apply to my already chosen newspaper career.
Richard: Yes, in my third year of college, I started thinking about teaching as a career.

What courses or activities did you find to be most valuable and how did they help prepare you for your professional career or success in life?

Larry: The business and journalism courses were most valuable because I could apply them immediately.
Richard: Sports helped me to see how hard work, perseverance, knowledge, and sacrifice can lead to success.

During your time at EvCC, was there anyone who acted as a mentor for you? Tell me about that relationship and why it was valuable.

Larry: Ken Engman, the advisor to the EvCC yearbook, was aware of my involvement in my newspaper career. He encouraged me to take the courses that would be most valuable, but also encouraged me to take a variety of elective courses to broaden my education and awareness of other possibilities. His support and direction during the two years I was the editor of the yearbook was extremely valuable. We continued to meet periodically throughout my upper division work and after graduation from the UW. I was motivated by his interest in me and his confidence in my potential.
Richard: There were many good people who influenced me at that time, too many to list.

Are there any moments that stand out as especially memorable while at EvCC?

Larry: The most significant was the opportunity to meet my wife-to-be, a nursing student who was an excellent student and Valedictorian of her class. Her excellent study habits were a positive influence on me. We were both working and going to school at the same time. We learned good time management together.
Richard: Just the interactions that I had with students and staff.

What is your lasting impression of EvCC?

Larry: I feel fortunate to have been in the last class at the old campus, with old WWII buildings for classrooms and then the first class at the new (present) campus, with the latest in accommodations and technology.
Richard: The condition of the buildings and facilities did not interfere with good education—it was the people who made the difference.

What helped you stay motivated, both in school and in your career?

Larry: Working full-time while going to school helped me see the value I could gain from my class work. I also had good mentors who encouraged me and gave me opportunities to grow and advance.
Richard: Knowing that I could continue to improve and have a positive effect on peoples’ lives.

Tell me about your current position or career.

Larry: I retired in 2002 after a 45-year career at The Everett Herald. I worked in and ultimately managed almost every department. Those wonderful leadership opportunities helped develop my leadership skills, concluding in the opportunity to be president and publisher for the last 18 years of my career.
Richard: I am retired and enjoying my wonderful family and friends. Before my retirement, I was the principal of Everett High School and assistant superintendent for instruction for the Everett School District.

What did you find rewarding about it?

Larry: The opportunity to work with a talented group of people who took their careers seriously and prided themselves in producing a quality product and their commitment to improving the community through volunteering.
Richard: Seeing young people come back to their community and have a positive impact on other people and the next generation.

What did you find most challenging?

Larry: Staying current with the ever-changing technology and customer expectations and needs.
Richard: Dividing my time between family and my work.

Would you do anything differently if you had the chance to do it all over again?

Larry: I think we all would do things differently, “if we knew then what we know now.”
Richard: Throughout your life, there are little things one would like to change, but overall, I feel satisfied.

What were your keys to success?

Larry: Surrounding myself with talented people, staying current with industry trends, building a network of successful people in my industry and in my community.
Richard: Being positive, listening to others, being honest, and helping others to be successful.

What words of advice would you give to current EvCC students?

Larry: Focus on your time management skills; commit yourself to being on time (even early) for classes, meetings, and completing assignments. Be open to new challenges and opportunities.
Richard: Remember, it’s not just what you learn, but the relationships you have with others.

From this vantage point in life, what do you care about the most?

Larry: The vantage point of retirement is the opportunity to focus on family and friends. It also provides time to give back to the community.
Richard: My family and their happiness and success.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Larry: I had role models who inspired me to become involved in my community and my industry in the following ways:
Community roles: President of the Everett Chamber, Everett Rotary Club, Economic Development Council, and Workforce Development Council.
Statewide roles: Governor Gardner’s Blue Ribbon Committee on K-12 Education Reform and Funding and the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Industry roles: Chair of American Newspaper Publishers Education Committee, Chair of Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association, and Chair of Allied Newspapers of Washington.
Richard: Since 1955, EvCC has spread its wings and sent many young people—and some, not so young—out into the world to pursue their dreams. That is what the community college system is all about.

Larry Hanson is also featured on the Voices of EvCC including a link to an audio interview in 2010.