John Michael Hannegan was born on 1 December 1903 to John Louis Hannegan and Bertha Elisabeth (Deininger) Hannegan. He was baptized at St. Andrews Evangelical Church on 19 June 1904 with his two grandmothers, Ernestine (Winkelmeyer) Hannegan and Sophie (Doepke) Deininger, as his godparents.

John attended Froebel Grammar School, Monroe School, and Cleveland High School from which he graduated in 1921. Favorite stories from childhood included visiting his aunt May and uncle Will Doepke, who lived in Crawford County, and attending his cousin Freddie Anheuser’s birthday parties where entertainment included parrot performances.

He attended the University of Missouri, majoring in chemical engineering, the University of Oklahoma for his Master’s degree in petroleum engineering, and the University of Missouri for his PhD in colloid chemistry. He was nominated for and inducted into the scientific research honor society, Sigma Xi. While at Mizzou, he was in the Army ROTC and attended summer camp at Ft. Leonard Wood, where he participated in boxing.

John met his wife, Thurley Williams, at Mizzou where he was her freshman chemistry lab instructor. They married on 8 June 1932. Their son Michael West Hannegan was born on 8 November 1934. When John finished his PhD, they moved to Boonville, Missouri, where he taught at Kemper Military School and was head of the science department.

In June 1941, John left Kemper to go to work for Western Cartridge, a division of Olin Industries, in East Alton, Illinois. While there, he did work for the World War II effort, for which he received the Army-Navy “E.” He and his wife lived in Ferguson, Missouri, where they were members of Immanuel E&R church. They were also members of Norwood Hills Country Club, where John played golf. They enjoyed playing bridge with friends and socializing with supper club friends. Other hobbies included stamp and coin collecting. They later moved to Olivette.

John Michael Hannegan
John Michael Hannegan
Photo in the collection of Mary McMillan
Used with permission

Beginning in December 1945, he went to work for G. H. Packwood, a commercial soap manufacturer. It was during this time that he became a member of the Optimist Club of the Hill. In January 1952, he began work for Vestal Labs, another commercial soap manufacturer where he helped develop and market a germicidal soap called Septisol. In 1953, he joined Universal Match Corporation, working in their armaments division, returning to work similar to that he performed at Western Cartridge.

In 1958, he joined Martin-Marietta in their aerospace division headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Initially he served as a liaison to the Thiokol Corporation, working at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, on the development of the propulsion system for the Pershing Missile System. After approximately two years there, he went to Orlando, where the final work was done on the Pershing Missile. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was also listed in American Men of Science. He retired from Martin-Marietta in 1968 and began teaching in the Winter Park, Florida, school system. He taught until 1980, when he suffered a serious heart attack. John died on 19 January 1981, in Winter Park. His ashes were scattered at sea, as he had loved coastal fishing and deep-sea fishing while living in Florida.

Submitted by Mary McMillan
February 2018

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Last Modified: 26-Oct-2018 11:30