William Michael Hanusiak, 70 of Kissimmee, Florida passed away at home on Friday, October 2nd, 2020. His tragic loss was sudden and unexpected and he will be sorely missed by many.
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William Michael Hanusiak was born on December 4th, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Belorusian mother Marie Bokin Hanusiak and Ukrainian father Michael Hanusiak. His older sisters, Carol Chesley and Joan Harsch grew up being taught the traditional music, dances and culture of their parent’s origin countries. However, Bill having been born right before the McCarthy era was discouraged from learning much of his cultural heritage at the time due to the political anti-communist climate of the US during that era. As a result, he did not learn the language of his parents, it being feared that would make him a target of the political climate. Bill told of being followed to Elementary school by FBI agents that were watching his family during the “red scare”. He was however always proud of his heritage and his parents and he grew up steeped in culture, politics and diplomacy.
Bill’s father and mother were to be among the founders of Arrow Park in Monroe, NY which was formed as a focal point for the Ukrainian-American community in the New York City area. This park was purchased when a group of Russian and Ukrainian workers pooled their money to purchase a park located near New York City that was for the recreation and relaxation of their community. This park on a lake had many recreations for the common worker and was dedicated to the Ukrainian and Russian community where many cultural and art festivals were held. Bill was very proud of that and took his children to visit the park to learn about their Ukrainian heritage and remained a shareholder of the park for life.
While Bill was growing up, Bill’s father was many things including a Pennsylvania coal union organizer, a newspaper editor of the Ukrainian News and a diplomat that dedicated decades of his life to researching Ukrainian Nazi collaborators living in the US and bringing them to justice, publishing a book on the topic titled “Lest We Forget”. His father was a consummate diplomat, orator, and a voice for the common man. Bill inherited many of his father’s skills for oration, debate and forming a consensus though in leading technical teams in his field of Materials Science, for which he earned a doctorate from Penn State.
Bill’s early exposure to his parent’s activism left an indelible impression upon him as he witnessed his father’s lifelong fight for the common worker, the oppressed, the persecuted, his untiring quest for justice for the victims of the Holocaust. While Bill’s politics may have differed from his father’s, he developed the same sense of right and wrong, his ethics, his belief that everyone should be equal, be treated fairly, have opportunity, be respected and have a voice. Bill was a consummate and charismatic diplomat in his technology field and was skilled at leading teams of people where collaboration between research, manufacturing and business was required. He worked closely with everyone from the workers on the shop floor to the CEOs of the company to achieve successful results. Bill believed that everyone had a contribution to make and that everyone’s contributions should be valued. Bill was a technology innovator, always thinking outside the box, holding many patents that span his entire professional life.
It was at work where Bill met his wife Lisa Bonner Hanusiak, who is also in the field of Materials Engineering. Their relationship began as technical peers at work where he was her mentor when she first graduated college and evolved into friendship and then into love and marriage in 1988. Bill was universally loved by and fit right into his wife’s extended family the Bonners and Wilkins, forming close relationships with her parents, brother, cousins, nieces and nephews. From this union, came his children Michael Kenneth Hanusiak in 1997 and Barbara Marie Hanusiak in 2000, of whom he was immensely proud of and for whom he would do absolutely anything. His dedication to his family was total and all-encompassing and a more dedicated father could not be found. He always treated his children like thinking and reasoning persons and his parenting style reflected that. Bill grew up in the working-class neighborhoods of Pittsburgh where a lot of his friends would be physically punished for misbehaving, but Bill would tell his friends that for his transgressions he would have to endure painful hours of lecturing from his father and that a beating might be over more quickly. Debate and reasoning also became Bill’s parenting style and his children have blossomed into intelligent and emotionally perceptive young adults as a result.
It was when his son Michael was 6 and became a Tiger cub that Bill was first introduced to scouting and the scouting values were something that resonated with him. They contain the same principles of character that he had learned from his parents. Through Michael’s path to Eagle scout and Barbara’s path to Summit scout, Bill became a dedicated scout leader to many scouts in the Central Florida area. He served as an Assistant Scoutmaster, Associate Advisor, Merit Badge Counselor, Troop Treasurer, Committee Member and more recently an Eagle Coach to our first female Eagle scouts. Bill was dedicated to the scouting ideals and was always willing to pitch in and help wherever needed. He epitomized the scout law in all ways, but particularly he was always Cheerful, always Helpful and always Friendly. Many within our scouting community have commented about how welcoming and helpful he was, always willing to lend a hand, always the go-to person when problems arose. He was always seeking to improve himself as a leader, believing that even at the age of 70 there was still more to learn about being a successful leader. Bill took scouting’s Woodbadge course in the last few weeks of his life, which is scouting’s highest adult leader training. He never stopped learning, never stopped trying to be better and for that he will be sorely missed by the scouting community and his family.
Bill is survived by his wife Lisa Bonner Hanusiak, his son Michael Kenneth Hanusiak and daughter Barbara Marie Hanusiak. He is also survived by his sister Joan Harsch and brother-in-law Aidan Harsch and their children Aidan A. Jr., Anastasia Marie, Jennifer Lorraine and Christian Michael and Joan and Aidan’s grandchildren. His sister Carol Chesley passed away in June of 2020 and his brother-in-law Russell Chesley passed away in December 2009. Carol and Russell’s children Michael Chesley and his wife Colleen, Anne Marie Chesley, Rusty Chesley and his wife Vicky, Matthew Chesley and his wife Nanette and Carol’s and Russsll’s grandchildren survive him.
On the Bonner side of the family, he is survived by his mother-in-law Barbara Bonner and father-in-law Kenneth Bonner, his brother-in-law Kenneth Bonner and sister-in-law Anita Bonner, nieces Lauren and Lacey Bonner, uncle Paul Bonner and aunt Janet Bonner, cousins Eve Bonner Hall and her husband George Hall and their children Allen and Jennifer Hall. There are many surviving family members in the Wilkins family including uncle Ed and aunt Darlene Wilkins, aunt Mary Wilkins (who was the pastor that married Bill and his wife), aunt Phyliss, and many cousins, nephews and nieces.
Since Bill was a very active scouter, we will be performing a Scout’s Own Memorial Service on the morning of Sunday, October 18th at 9 am at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, FL. All family, scouts, scouters and parents are welcome to come. Scouting uniforms are very welcome and the rest can come casual. Bring a camp chair to make yourselves comfortable. Scouting was a big part of Bill’s last 10 years and he would love this type of memorial by those he dedicated the last 10 years of his life to. Please bring your favorite Mr Bill story to the memorial to share with family and friends. Bill is being cremated and per his wishes, his ashes will be spread in the mountains at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, we are asking that donations be made to Camp Ithiel, 2037 Hemple Avenue, Gotha, FL 34734. The camp has been incredibly generous to the three scout units that are chartered there and that Bill was a leader in. Camp Ithiel was like a second home to Bill and he spent many happy hours there working with the scouts.
We will be observing COVID safety wearing masks at the memorial service and the service will be conducted outdoors where guests can spread out and socially distance. Family from out of town are encouraged to participate virtually to avoid having to travel. Details to come on the virtual forum.
Meeting ID: 878 9750 8659
The service is October 18th, 9 am.