NAHCOTTA - Martha Louise (Brady) Hanner, 94, passed into death in her bayside home with her beloved husband of 74 years, Pete Hanner, and her family beside her. She was born May 12, 1916, the daughter of W. R. and Martha Ann (Hitchins) Brady in Nowata, Okla., and was the sixth of seven children. Early in her life, she showed a special acuity for music and sang operettas in high school. In college she won first place for voice in an Oklahoma State competition.
She and her husband met at what is now Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla. Her husband noted, "I was singing with a band and she danced by in a black dress with coal-black hair and I fell like a ton of bricks." After hiring a truck and finding a guitar-playing friend, he sang "Stardust" to Martha at her Chi Omega window and that "sealed the deal." They were married in 1937.
In their early life together, Mr. Hanner sang with a variety of big bands and had a radio show in Beverley Hills, Calif. She cared for their two children and continued her singing, with a stunning coloratura soprano, in church. The couple also sang duets, with her at the keyboards. In fact, their first furniture purchase as a married couple was a Wurlitzer spinet piano, which still graces the sitting room.
Big band life had its ups and downs. Mr. Hanner relates a time when he had a nickel in his pocket and was sent out to find a nickel burger, but all the stores were closed. When he returned empty-handed, she was smiling: she had found a can of sardines hidden in the bottom of a suitcase.
She had a passion to see the world and with diligent savings, managed to travel first with the children and then with her husband, to countries around the globe: China, Nepal, Egypt, Uganda, India, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. She and her husband crawled inside the pyramids, climbed the Great Wall, visited the Taj Mahal, the canals of Venice and the Eiffel Tower.
She was an elegant, powerful, caring and strong-willed family matriarch, always clear-headed. Once her daughter called saying, "We've just seen a 110 acre farm for sale near Cave Junction, Ore." Mrs. Hanner - property sight unseen - said, "We'll buy it." Three generations of Hanners lived together there for 13 years.
Later, when the Hanners looked at a small and extremely run-down house on Willapa Bay, her husband said, "Let's get out of here!" while she on the front porch with the real estate agent, said "We'll take it!"
She was an avid birder and enjoyed reading non-fiction, especially about world religions. She wrote, "When I read a book, I look for revelations about the meaning of life. I seek out a kernel of thought that will help me in my search." Near the end of her life, her advice to granddaughters shows her striving always for truth. "Be yourself, no matter what anybody says. Don't be left with regrets."
In September last year, Mrs. Hanner read a text by Meister Eckhart on dying. She noted, "Eckhart taught that to the property of motherhood belong nature, love, wisdom, and knowledge, and this is God. Longing for darkness is also a longing for the womb of God." In another note the family found after her death, she wrote, "Don't fear death. Death is a natural liberation ... my divine spirit is always with you, in your heart of hearts."
Survivors include husband, Alan Housel "Pete" Hanner; two children, Carter Hanner and his wife Molly and Ann (Hanner) Gaddy and her husband Philip; six granddaughters; and eight great-grandchildren.