Constance “Connie” Hannah died on Saturday, November 23, 2019, at the age of 94. She knew many people in Santa Barbara, CA, from her work as a frequent spokesperson for the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara, and from her previous work at the UCSB Child Care Center during the l980s.
Earlier in her career she had always worked, and when she moved to Southern California she was anxious to find new work to do, and eager to see as much of the far west as possible. She and her husband Bob accomplished both, and learned to love the very different climate from their previous home in Denver. They had eagerly explored all of that state during their early marriage, when Bob had served in the Army at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs and Connie had worked in various social service agencies.
Connie was born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, and spent her entire childhood in the suburb called Bay Village. It was a small and charming town outside of Cleveland, on Lake Erie. The Lake played a big part in her family’s life because the children all learned to swim at a very early age, and spent their teen free time swimming, boating and beaching.
Connie’s own mother died when she was two, and when her father remarried, she had the good fortune to have an educated, perceptive mother. Elizabeth had three children of her own, Doris, Jean and Dick, and was determined to treat all of her children equally. Because both Libby and Harry Watson had graduated from college they assumed that their children would too, and all of them did, finding successful careers as a result.
All of Connie’s siblings have survived her. Connie always felt that she had had an idyllic childhood, in a place with great natural beauty and with a lot of freedom when she was young.
As a result she began to think for herself at about 15, and insisted on attending Antioch College in Southern Ohio. There she joined the work-study program, and had work experiences at the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago, at Time-Life magazine in New York, and on the city room staff of the Detroit News.
She majored in psychology and journalism. She expected to continue working in news rooms, but when the war ended, the men returned to their previous jobs, and women were all sent to do the society pages. That caused her to rethink her career.
She returned to college on an assistantship in the Child and Adolescent Psychology Department at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. She received her Masters Degree there, and met her husband Bob, who came from Denison, Iowa. They had been married for 68 years at her death.
When they lived in Colorado, Connie worked for 17 years at the Florence Crittenton Home in Denver. That was the largest maternity home in the country, with its own hospital, school for the girls, and counseling program.
Colorado had an excellent law requiring that all unmarried mothers have full counseling, and only release their child in a formal court hearing. With a psychology background, it was easy to help girls decide what they wanted to do in one of the most serious decisions they would ever make.
Connie and Bob moved to Santa Barbara in the 1970s and their son Lee attended UCLA and UCSB. Lee and Lala Hannah were married in Madagascar in the late 1990s and Connie and Bob visited them when they lived in Cape Town just after the birth of their daughter Tia, and again when they had moved to the Washington DC area for the birth of their son Jay.
After Lee and Lala moved to Santa Barbara, Connie spent many happy hours with Tia and Jay, Lala and Lee.
Connie did not let being a wonderful grandmother deter her from her work on environmental and social causes, striving to make a better community. She loved staying in touch with her many friends in the League and EDC, in her book group, in her poetry group, her neighbors, and old friends as far away as San Luis Obispo, Denver and Guatemala, up until the time of her death.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Environmental Defense Center or the League of Women Voters. Memorial gathering January 4, 2:00pm at the Environmental Defense Center.