John Warren HakansonMay 21, 1920 ~ March 3, 2017 (age 96)
Dr. John Warren Hakanson was born in Cottage Grove, Oregon on May 21, 1920. His mother, Esther Hakanson, was a 2nd generation Oregonian. His father, John Hakanson, was a Swedish immigrant. John had three brothers, Bud, Mart and Ralf, and one sister, Marianne. John passed away peacefully on March 3, 2017, surrounded by the music he loved, with his wife and children by his side.
John’s father died when John W. was 16, leaving the family with five children during the depths of the depression. After employment as a logger, forest fire fighter and roofer, John was drafted, serving in New Guinea and the Philippines, where he earned a Bronze Star. His unit was training for the final assault on the Japanese mainland when WWII ended. While he was overseas, John and Helen wrote each other over 800 letters, fell in love, and made plans for their life together after the war. John returned as an Army Captain and was finally reunited with the love of his life, Helen, in Eugene on Christmas Eve, 1945. John and Helen were married on March 24, 1946, a union that would span seven decades.
John had a distinguished career in Education, culminating in the Presidency of Clackamas Community College from 1969 to 1984. His quest to improve Oregon’s education system began in 1946 when he drafted legislation that led to the creation of what is now Portland State University. This included authoring an op-ed piece in the Oregonian advocating for a state college to serve veterans and others in Portland. John attended Willamette University in Salem, graduating in 1950 with a major in Political Science and minor in Economics. He received a Master’s from the University of Oregon in 1954, and taught at Myrtle Creek, Canyonville, and Harrisburg. In 1963 John and Helen moved with their four kids to Berkeley where John worked on his Doctorate, returning to Oregon in 1965 where he was instrumental in launching Clackamas Community College, beginning as Dean of Instruction in 1967 with promotion to President in 1969.
John’s involvement in local politics and community affairs exemplified the value he placed on lifelong learning and engagement in the community. Upon retirement in 1984, John remained active in civic affairs, serving on many Boards and Commissions including the Clackamas Economic Development Commission, the Oregon Trail Foundation, the Oregon Board of Nursing and the Board of Directors of the Clackamas County Historical Society. He had a passion for singing, and he and Helen had many choir affiliations including the Portland Lutheran Choir for 30 years. His interests also included history, local politics and the environmental movement.
John was a devoted husband and father. He always had time for his children and grandchildren. The family went on many fine adventures together including two journeys across the United States in a school bus. He was kind and patient, and by example, taught his family to value nature, education, honesty and hard work.
John is survived by his wife of 70 years, Helen Hakanson; and his children, John Hakanson, David Hakanson, Lou Ann Hakanson and Rob Hakanson. John and Helen have 11 grandchildren, Olivia, Lilly, Maya, Bryan, Guy, Riley, Claire, Ellie, Amy, Camille and Henry; and one great-grandchild, Ashton.
Clackamas Community College Foundation
19600 Molalla Avenue, Oregon City OR 97045