Leo Hannigan
Leo Hannigan

Obituary of Leo Arthur Hannigan

It is with broken hearts that the wife and family of Art Hannigan of Grand Bay-Westfield announce his passing on January 23, 2024, at the Saint John Regional Hospital. Art was born at home on October 8, 1934, in Woodstock, NB to the late Leo Francis and Agnes Alice (Harrington).

He will be dearly missed by his wife Sheila Kinney; his sons Drew (Barbie), David (Denise), Tim (Caroline), and Micheal (Christa); his daughter Lyndia Bridges (David); his grandchildren Katherine, Isabelle, Connor, Rachel, and Brooke; niece Sharon Pawsey (Colin); nephews Kerry Hannigan and Mike Haynes; his loved ones in the Kinney and Cronk families; his longtime friends Hazen Taylor and Joe Theriault; and his special niece Amy.

The last surviving member of his immediate family, Art was predeceased by his beloved parents; brother Joe and his wife Madge; brother Tom and his wife Mary; sister Awilda McIntosh and her husband Donald; sister Ruby Haynes and her husband Allison. He was also predeceased by previous wife Beverley Arlyene (Wall) and their infant son Thomas; special sister-in-law Lynda; niece Susan Grant (Mark); niece Kelly Hannigan; nephew Leigh Roy Haynes; and dear friends Donald and Eric Cruikshank.

A gifted storyteller with an astonishing memory, Art could weave everyday events into entertaining tales. Stories from his childhood with parents he truly admired, fascinating bits and pieces from his time working in corrections, hilarious anecdotes from his once in a lifetime trip to Ireland -- he made them all memorable, and he made them all meaningful. 

A keen military historian with a deep and abiding respect for those who served, his knowledge of world events was second to none. He was our go-to expert on WWII flying ace Douglas Bader and on all thing’s aircraft! 

With a rugged exterior that earned him the nickname Grizz at work, he was still ever the gentleman. He had exquisite penmanship, was a thoughtful giver of meaningful gifts, and a friend to animals and children. He was a cynical man, and a practical man; he was also gentle, and he was generous; he was graceful, and he was gracious. He was an astute observer of human nature and would quietly help those in need without fanfare. He was not a perfect man, but he was a good man. 

A lifelong outdoorsman and lover of nature, he took his extended family on memorable camping trips over the years. With women and children and dogs in tow, none of these trips ever went quite as planned and all of them resulted in memories that still make us giggle. In his later years Art would still go on hunting trips, but now it was just for the camaraderie, and for the time to enjoy his tea from a thermos in the quiet of the forest, as he no longer wished to take the life of an animal.

When days turned into weeks and weeks turned into more than three months, Art faced the challenging chaos in an overcrowded and understaffed hospital with the same grit and tenacity he had exhibited all of his life, getting on with things without complaint (but certainly with more than a few swear words). 

The day that would ultimately be our last with Art was a beautiful one. We sat quietly together in his room in the peaceful palliative care unit, listening to the music he loved -- Connie Francis, Nat King Cole, the Everly Brothers, and a little Patsy Cline. He was very weak, but he was out of pain, and he was comfortable. He got lots of kisses, and soothing chest rubs just like the ones he remembered his mother had given him when he fell ill as a little boy. "You're a good old scout, a good old scout," we told him, just as his village doctor had comforted him at the time. We told him, as we always did, how much everyone loved him. He wasn't able to talk much by then, but he nodded. He knew. He loved us all back. 

At 89, his was a life well lived, and one he was grateful for, but we still feel like we have lost Art too soon. There were more cups of tea and stories to share, more lobster rolls to enjoy, more country drives, and more quiet moments together on the veranda, looking out at the river. 

No time would have ever been enough. 

We will miss his toothy grin, his infectious chuckle, and the mischievous twinkle in his eye. We will so miss his wicked sense of humour! He was the master of the well-turned phrase and the well-timed punchline. No one will ever be able to make us laugh as hard just by raising one eyebrow.

We will miss his insightfulness, his sound advice, his empathy, his fairness, and his sense of justice. We will miss his attention to the little details and his understanding of the big picture. We will miss the lovely, rolling poems he remembered from his school days. We will miss him quoting Val Kilmer from the movie Tombstone -- who will tell us "I'm your Huckleberry" now? 

The family wishes to thank Ambulance NB, Dr. Neil Young, and the caring staff of the Saint John Regional Hospital 5CS. We will be forever grateful to Dr. Solomon Ugabi and to the staff of the Palliative Care Unit for the outstanding and compassionate care they provided to the entire family during the last seven days of Art's life.

Arrangements are under the care of Castle Funeral Home. In keeping with Art's wishes there will be no visitation or funeral. You can remember him by enjoying a cup of tea, patting a dog, telling a joke about lawyers, or making a donation to any cause dear to your heart. Cremation has taken place and interment will take place at a later date in the summer at the Wharton Cemetery in Upper Kent NB. 

We will miss our handsome guy. We will miss him daily and we will miss him tremendously. It was an honour to walk him home. 

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